U.S. and NATO Apologies for Chinese Embassy Bombing: A Categorical Analysis

Dexin Tian


This paper is aimed at looking into the results of the U.S. and NATO apologies for the Chinese Embassy bombing, which occurred on May 7, 1999. Through the theoretical lens of Nick Smith’s categorical apology with reference to the relevant works of Tavuchis and Lazare and via the rhetorical method of close textual analysis, this study has analyzed the transcripts of five selected rhetorical artifacts of the U.S. and NATO apologies. A close reading of the artifacts against the nine standards of the categorical apology reveals both positive and negative findings. Positively, the United States and NATO have fully met three standards of performance of apology, reform and reparations, and standing and partially satisfied the standard of categorical regret. Negatively, they have failed to meet five other standards completely in their apologies. At the time, the United States and NATO had the first priority to continue with their air-strike campaign and the least motivation to present a full, categorical apology even though they were challenged with the humanitarian necessity and the intention to maintain their relationships with P.R. China.

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