This study was based on off-the-record interviews conducted in late 2001 with four anonymous US State Department officials involved in public negotiations of the US apologies. The author’s aim in carrying out these interviews was threefold. Firstly, he wished to clarify the intricacies of international diplomatic apologies. Secondly, he intended to “probe” the opinions of official diplomats on such apologies. Finally, he aimed that this study would contribute to a greater understanding of diplomatic apologies and pragmatics involved therewith.
The author argues that most political apologies are framed in such a way that both nations’ real political goals are achieved. To carry out an act of apology, “the stage must be set by a process of negotiation and reconciliation” (Thompson 2005). Mirroring this idea, the author describes the kind of negotiations that take place before an official apology. Based on interviews, the author writes that America apologized to China in an “ambiguous” and careless manner and refrained from publicly accepting the incidents as its own fault. Such an apology was unacceptable to the Chinese. Furthermore, both countries took advantage of the linguistic gap between the two and manipulated the wordings of the apology to suit their own interests. Chinese officials reinterpreted the official US apology during translation to suit their own customs. ...Show more