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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Qing Cao

Associate Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43417
Room number: A14

Contact Dr Qing Cao (email at

My research focuses on the study of Chinese media and communication with three strands of interest. The first is concerned with the role of the media in transforming traditional China into a modern society. The second is the impact of language use in the media that shapes people’s perceptions of reality, and how they respond to rapid social changes. The third examines mutual media representations between China and the West, focusing on identity reproduction through the image of the other. My central concern in all these strands is the way in which the mass media impact on the ability of humans to make sense of the world they live in. 

Currently I am working on a project that looks at the press in late Qing and early Republic China. The project is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council under the Open World Research Initiative. It is part of the translingual strand and transnational strand. My project translating modernity: a linguistic investigation of the migration of western ideas to China around the turn into the 20th century examines how concepts rooted in European post-enlightenment values were linguistically reconstructedin China’s early modern press and how it shaped intellectual and political discussions about fundamental issues on how to modernize China. It seeks to understand the link between a sudden rise of modern vocabularies mediated through Meiji Japan and a rapid shift of worldview among the educated elites. Previously I completed two British Academy-funded research projects. Both examined the way in which the media actively promote a developmentalist identity of the post-reform China contextualised in the historical drive for an industrialist modernity.

My book China under Western Gaze is the first book-length study of the British television documentaries’ representation of China in the pivotal years of 1980-2000. Drawing on Vladimir Propp’s dramatis personae, I analysed the mythic and mimetic narratives of the documentary texts and visual images. The book details how the 1980s’ fascination with a ‘rediscovered’ cultural China turned into the 1990s’ repulsion of a political China; and how the sudden change in a single decade is intricately linked to the global shift of geopolitics from the cold war to the post-cold war world.

I have supervised PhD students working on a range of topics, including the BBC reporting of China, Western newsmagazine reporting of US-China and US-Japan trade wars, the 19th century English newspaper representation of China, BBC reporting of Saudi Arabia, Chinese literary representation of modernity in Republican China, discursive construction of China’s national identity, and representation of women in newspapers from late Qing to contemporary China. I would welcome enquiries from students who wish to pursue PhDs in similar fields and those related to my research interests. Proposals that use corpus linguistics as a research method are welcome.


Research Groups

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Research Interests

  • Mass media and society
  • Late Qing press
  • Western reporting of China
  • China's modern intellectual history
  • Chinese linguistics and translation

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Cao, Qing (2014). China under Western Gaze: Representing China in the British Television Documentaries, 1980-2000. World Scientific.
  • Cao, Qing (2013). China’s Image from a Global Perspective (224 pages). Nankai University Press.

Edited book

  • Cao, Qing, Wu, Doreen & Tomaselli, Keyan (2019). Brand China in the Media: Transformation of Identities. Routledge.
  • Cao, Qing, Tian, Hailong & Chilton, Paul (2014). Discourse, Politics and Media in Contemporary China. Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture, vol. 54. John Benjamins.
  • Tian, Hailong & Cao, Qing (2012). Reinventing Identities: the Poetics of Language Use in Contemporary China (214 pages). Nankai Disourse Studies Series. Nankai University Press.

Chapter in book

  • Cao, Qing (Forthcoming). The Lure of Utopia: Reinterpreting Liang Qichao's Xinmin Shuo. In Utopia and Modernity in China: Contradictions in Transition. Margolies, D. & Cao, Q. Pluto.
  • Cao, Qing & Lang, Iris (2021). Digital Media and the Making of Youth in China. In China's Contemporary Image and Rhetoric Practice. Wei, Xiaowei Routledge.
  • Cao, Qing (2021). Translating 'Nation' in Late Qing China: The Discourse and Power of Nation in the Remaking of Chinese Society, 1895-1911. In Translation as a Set of Frames. Almanna, A. & Gu, C. L. Routledge.
  • Cao, Qing (2019). Discursive Construction of National and Political Identities in China. In The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Discourse Analysis. Shei, Chris Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 431-443.
  • Cao, Qing, Wu, Doreen & Tomaselli, Keyan (2019). Introduction: Continuities and Changes for an Alternative Modernity. In Brand China in the Media: Transformation of Identities. Cao, Qing, Wu, Doreen & Tomaselli, Keyan Routledge.
  • Cao, Qing (2017). Chinese Developmentalism and Television Representation of South Africa. In China-Africa Relations: Building Images through Cultural Co-operation, Media Representation and Communication. Batchelor, K. & Zhang, X. Routledge. 48: 199-217.
  • Cao, Qing (2016). Narrative Approach to Discourse Analysis: Theory, Method and a Case Study. In Discourse Studies (Volume 2). Tian, Hailong Nankai University Press. 1-25.
  • Cao, Qing (2015). The Politics and poetics of television documentary in China. In The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Media. Rawnsley, Gary & Rawnsley, Ming-yeh Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 355-371.
  • Cao, Qing (2014). China's Soft Power: Formulations, Contestations and Communication. In Discourse, Politics and Media in Contemporary China. Cao, Qing, Tian, Hailong & Chilton, Paul John Benjamins. 171-194.
  • Cao, Qing (2014). Introduction: Legitimisation, Resistance and Discursive Struggles in Contemporary China. In Discourse, Politics and Media in Contemporary China. Cao, Qing, Tian, Hailong & Chilton, Paul John Benjamins. 54: 1-22.
  • Cao, Qing (2013). From revolution to business: China's changing discourses on Africa. In The morality of China in Africa: the middle kingdom and the dark continent. Chan, Stephen London: Zed Books. 60-69.
  • Cao, Qing (2012). Anti-Colonialism. In Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia and Africa (Volume 3: East and Southeast Asia). Patterson, O. & Geoffrey, G. SAGE Publications. 201-203.
  • Cao, Qing (2012). Introduction: Language, Discourse and Identity in Globalised China. In Reinventing Identities: the Poetics of Language Use in Contemporary China. Tian, H. & Cao, Q. Nankai University Press. 1-15.
  • Cao, Qing (2012). Propaganda. In Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia and Africa (Volume 3: East and Southeast Asia). Patterson, O & Geoffrey, G SAGE Publications. 351-353.
  • Cao, Qing (2012). Re-imagined West in the Chinese Television: a Case Study of a China Central Television Documentary Series Rise of Great Powers. In Discourse and Social-Political Transformations in Contemporary China. Chilton, P. Tian, H. & Wodak, R. John Benjamins. 127-144.
  • Cao, Qing (2012). Reimagining Traditions: the Role of Culture in China’s External Relations. In Reinventing Identities: the Poetics of Language Use in Contemporary China. Tian, H. & Cao, Q. Nankai University Press. 45-70.
  • Cao, Qing (2011). Reporting China: Perspectives, Patterns and Research Methodology. In Chinese Stuides and International Communication (Volume 1). Pan, Wenguo & Chan, Jinjian East China Normal University Press. 1-19.
  • Cao, Qing & Renwick, N. (2010). China’s Evolving Human Security Discourse. In New Perspectives from Japan and China. Iwatake, Mikako Renvall Institute Publications 27, University of Helsinki. 27-50.
  • Cao, Qing (2009). Intercultural Communication through Language: Chinese Cultural Linguistics and Its Implications in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. In Theories and Practices in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. Zhang, Xinsheng Cypress. 1-12.
  • Cao, Qing (2009). Journalism and Political Change: the Case of China. In The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism. Stuart, Alan Routledge. 138-148.
  • Cao, Qing (2009). Western Perspectives on China. In Berkshire Encyclopaedia of China. Cheng, L. Berkshire Publishing Group. 4: 1749-1753.
  • Cao, Qing (2006). Western Representation of the ‘Other’. In Discourse as Cultural Struggle. Shi-xu Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. 105-122.
  • Cao, Qing (2005). Chinese. In In Other Words: The Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World. Moore, C. Oxford University Press. 82-85.
  • Cao, Qing & Renwick, N. (2003). Modern Political Communication in China. In Political Communication in Greater China: The Construction and Reflection of Identity. Rawnsley, Gary & Rawnsley, Ming-Yeh New York: Routledge. 62-82.
  • Cao, Qing (2001). Selling Culture: Ancient Chinese Conception of the ‘Other’ in Legends. In The Zen of International Relations: IR Theories from East to West. Chan, Stephen, Mandeville, Peter & Bleiker, Roland Palgrave Macmillan. 178-202.
  • Cao, Qing (2000). Religious Culture and Translation. In Culture and Translation. Guo, J. China Translation Publishing House. 364-377.

Journal Article

  • Cao, Qing (2018). A Corpus-based Investigation of Guomin. Journal of Chinese Sociolinguistics 31(2): 13-28.
  • Cao, Qing (2018). The adaption of Western Ideas in Late Qing Press: A Translingual Investigation. Social Scientist 32(11): 11-19.
  • Cao, Qing & Wu, Doreen (2017). Modern Chinese Identities at the Crossroads: Introduction. Critical Arts 31(6): 1-8.
  • Cao, Qing (2017). Rupture in Modernity: A Case Study of Radicalism in Late Qing Chinese Press Debate. Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies 31(6): 9-28.
  • Cao, Qing (2012). Modernity and Media Portrayals of China. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 22(1): 1-21.
  • Cao, Qing (2011). Cultural Foundations of Western Representation of China. Global Media Review 8(1): 128-143.
  • Cao,Qing (2011). The Language of Soft Power: Mediating Socio-political Meanings in the Chinese Media. Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies 25(1): 7-24.
  • Cao, Qing (2010). The re-imagined West in Chinese Television: a Case Study of the CCTV Documentary Series the Rise of the Great Powers. Journal of Language and Politics 9(4): 615-633.
  • Cao, Qing & Fu, Daoxin (2009). Missing Heroes: Portraying Chinese History in British Television. Journal of Chinese Sociolinguistics 13(2): 60-77.
  • Chan, Stephen & Cao, Qing (2008). After the Civilization Orders: International Cultural Relations in a Third World Perspective. World Economics and Politics 27(7): 67-71.
  • Cao, Qing & Renwick, N. (2008). China's Cultural Soft Power: An Emerging National Cultural Security Discourse. American Journal of Chinese Studies 15(2): 69-86.
  • Cao, Qing (2007). China Through Western Eyes: a Case Study of a BBC Television Documentary Series Road to Xanadu. European Journal of East Asian Studies 7(2): 275-297.
  • Cao, Qing (2007). Confucian Vision of a New World Order? Culturalist Discourse, Foreign Policy and the Press in Contemporary China. International Communication Gazette 69(5): 431-450.
  • Cao, Qing (2006). The Discourse of Technology in Western Representation of China: A Case Study. Global Media Journal 5(9): 1-14.
  • Cao, Qing (2004). Two Faces of Confucianism: Narrative Construction of Cross-cultural Imagery. Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies 30(2): 223-248.
  • Cao, Qing (2000). Journalism as Politics: Reporting Hong Kong’s Handover in the Chinese Press. Journalism Studies 1(4): 665-678.
  • Cao, Qing & Renwick, Neil (1999). China's political discourse towards the 21st century victimhood, identity, and political power. East Asia: an international quarterly 17(4): 111-143.
  • Cao, Qing (1999). Signification of Hong Kong’s Handover: the Case of the British Press. Journal of International Communication 6(2): 71-89.

Book review

  • Cao, Qing (1999). China under Communism. The Pacific Review 12(1): 136-138.

Edited Journal

  • Cao, Qing & Wu, Doreen (2017). Modern Chinese Identities at the Crossroads. Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, 31 (6): Routledge.

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Cao, Qing (2019). Hong Kong protests: why Chinese media reports focus on Britain's colonial past. The Conversation
  • Cao, Qing (2008). Changing Perspectives on China. Guanxi: The China Letter 2(11): 8-11.
  • Cao, Qing (2003). China's Position in the New Global Structure. Ming Pao Monthly 38(1): 129.
  • Cao, Qing (2003). Deconstructing China Threat. Ming Pao Monthly 38(11): 132.
  • Cao, Qing (2003). Tony Blair's Foreign Policy and its Impact. Ming Pao Monthly 38(5): 26-28.

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