ADVERSARIAL QUESTIONING AND ANSWERING STRATEGIES IN CHINESE GOVERNMENT PRESS CONFERENCES
Studying political interviews and press conferences is significant as it may provide a special insight into the change in the policy of a country, and perhaps even the well-being of a society as a whole. Previous studies on broadcast interviews have identified adversarial questioning as an increasing and pervasive style in journalistic practice in the western world (Clayman and Heritage 2002a/b). The use of such adversarial style has emerged in Hong Kong — a metropolitan city deeply influenced by both Chinese and western cultures (Yip 2003). However, the general knowledge of how journalists treat public figures in other parts of the Chinese-speaking world remains relatively unknown. This study attempts to investigate the questioning and answering patterns, in particular adversarial questioning, in Chinese government press conferences which has thus far received little scholarly attention. Drawing on Clayman and Heritage’s coding system for measuring adversarial questioning in U.S. press conferences (2002b), the current study examines the question-answer sequences based on a corpus of ten government press conferences held in mainland China, and aims to present a questioning format by showing any differences in the design of questions by Chinese journalists and their foreign counterparts. The study further explores the format of the response of Chinese officials typical of these events and some possible correlation between government officials’ question-taking and their setting of the political agenda.
Key words: Adversarial questioning, government press conference