How China and Chinese people are visually represented: The case of a series of Liberal Studies textbooks in Hong Kong


  • Yuxi Wu Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, City University of Macau, Avenida Padre Tomás Pereira, Taipa, Macau SAR
  • Yulong Li Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, City University of Macau, Avenida Padre Tomás Pereira, Taipa, Macau SAR



Hong Kong, Liberal Studies, textbooks analysis, critical discourse analysis


Aim. The aim of the research is to examine how Mainland China and Chinese people are represented in the visual materials of four sets of Liberal Studies (LS) textbooks in Hong Kong.

Methods. Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis, viewing language as a social practice and van Dijk’s ideological coding categories are integrated to analyze discursive representations (e.g., the embedded hidden power) in the Hong Kong Today volumes published by four influential commercial publishers: Modern, Ming Pao, Marshall, and Aristo.

Results. The analysis reveals that China and mainland Chinese are negatively portrayed in visual images in four commercial LS textbooks, in which, the representations concerning mainland China and mainlanders are all found ideologically biased to highlight their negative characteristics and alienness.

Conclusions. Via an overview of Hong Kong’s history, economy, educational policies, and controversial political events, the reasons why China and its people are represented negatively in LS textbooks is explained.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Yuxi Wu, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, City University of Macau, Avenida Padre Tomás Pereira, Taipa, Macau SAR

Yuxi Wu is an assistant professor at the City University of Macau. She holds a doctoral degree in applied linguistics from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her interest lies in critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics.


Adrian, Y. K. C. (2019). Challenges of cultivating critical citizens in Hong Kong: Voices from Liberal Studies pre-service teachers. Asian Education and Development Studies.

Al-Momani, K., Badarneh, M. & Migdadi, F. (2017). A semiotic analysis of political cartoons in Jordan in light of the Arab Spring. Humor, 30(1), 63-95.

Bai, W. G., Li, D. H., Qu, L. M., Huan, P. Q., Hu, H. X., Gao, Y. P., Cao, Y. C., Yang, B. Y., & Liu, Z. X. (2014). New Asia Books Senior Secondary Liberal Studies: Today’s Hong Kong, the 2nd edition. Hong Kong: New Asian Books Publishing Group.

Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., Khosravinik, M., Krzyżanowski, M., McEnery, T., & Wodak, R. (2008). A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Discourse & Society, 19(3), 273-306.

Bednarek, M., & Caple, H. (2012). News discourse. London: Continuum.

Chan, E. (2000). Defining Fellow Compatriots as ‘Others’ ‐ National Identity in Hong Kong. Government and Opposition, 35(4), 499-519. doi:10.1111/1477-7053.00043

Cheng, J. Y. S. (2014). The emergence of radical politics in Hong Kong: Causes and impact. The China Review, 199-232.

Cheng, T. C. (1954). The Hong Kong Chinese School Certificate Examination. Journal of Education-University of Hong Kong, (12).

China Daily. (2019, September 2). Education flaws linked to HK unrest.

China Daily. (2020, September 24,). Task force proposes vetting Liberal Studies textbooks.

Chow, T. T. (1980). The May fourth movement. US: Harvard University Press.

Curriculum Development Council & Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (2007). Hong Kong Liberal Studies Curriculum and Assessment Guide.

Davies, C., Kuipers, G., Lewis, P., Martin, R., Oring, E. & Raskin, V. (2008). The Muhammad cartoons and humor research: A collection of essays. 21(1), 1-46.

Education Department. (1953). The report of the Chinese studies committee, Hong Kong: Hong Kong Government Printer.

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London and New York: Longman

Fairclough, N. (2003). Analysing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. London: Routledge.

Fairclough, N. (2007). Introduction. In F. Norman, C. Giuseppina, & P. Ardizzone (Eds.), Discourse and contemporary social change (Vol. 54) (pp. 9-21). Germany: Peter Lang.

Fairclough, N. (2010). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge

Fairclough, N. (2015). Language and power (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Farrelly, P., Golley, J., & Jaivin, L. (2019). Introduction: Powering up. In Farrelly P., Golley J., Jaivin L., & Strange S. (Eds.), Power (pp. Viii-Xxiv). Acton ACT, Australia: ANU Press. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from

Gee, J. P. (2011). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Heberle, V., & Morgado, M. (2016). Discussing the representation of immigrants: An integrated view from SFL, CDA and Multimodality. International Journal of Language Studies, 10(2), 57-78.

Ho, O. H. (2009). China: The process of decolonization in the case of Hong Kong. In P. Gassert & M. Klimke (Eds.), 1968-Memories and Legacies of a global revolt (pp. 79-82). German Historical Institute.

Hong Kong 01 Media. (2020, June 9). Xiuli fengbo yizhounian Yu 8 qianren beibu 4cheng wei xuesheng dai chu li. Retrieved from社會新聞/483467/修例風波一周年-警拘千六未成年人-少年9度被捕-小六生遭拘4

Igwebuike, E. E. (2018). Discursive strategies and ideologies in selected newspaper reports on the Nigerian-Cameroonian Bakassi peninsula border conflict. Communication and the Public, 3(2), 151–168.

Lee, J. F. K. (2019). In the pursuit of a gender-equal society: Do Japanese EFL textbooks play a role?. Journal of Gender Studies, 28(2), 204-217.

Lee, J. F. K., & Mahmoudi-Gahrouei, V. (2020). Gender representation in instructional materials: A study of Iranian English language textbooks and teachers’ voices. Sexuality and Culture, 24(4), 1107-1127.

Lestariyana, R.P.D., Widodo, H.P. & Sulistiyo, U. (2020). Female Representation in Government Mandated English Language Textbooks Used in Indonesian Junior High Schools. Sexuality & Culture, 24, 1150–1166.

Li, Y.L. & Liu, X.J. (2021): A Bourdieusian Analysis of the Cultural Arbitraries in the Educational System for Chinese People in the Post WWII Hong Kong,1940s-1970s. International Critical Thought, 11(2),287-302.

Li, Y.L. (2021). A Critical Policy Analysis of the Implementation of the Bi-literacy and Trilingualism Language Policy in Hong Kong: from a Postcolonial Perspective. Simon Fraser University Educational Review.14 (1), 33-49.

Li, Y.L.& Xiao, D.B. (2020). Mandarin discrimination in Hong Kong: Luk, B. (1991). Chinese Culture in the Hong Kong Curriculum: Heritage and Colonialism. Comparative Education Review, 35(4), 650-668. Retrieved July 27, 2021, from

Lin, Y., Chen, M., & Flowerdew, J. (2021). ‘Same, same but different’: representations of Chinese mainland and Hong Kong people in the press in post-1997 Hong Kong. Critical Discourse Studies, 1-20.

Mathews, G., Ma, E., & Lui, T. L. (2007). Hong Kong, China: Learning to belong to a nation. Routledge.

Mizuoka, F. (2014). Contriving ‘laissez-faire’: Conceptualising the British colonial rule of Hong Kong. City, Culture and Society, 5(1), 23-32.

Modern Educational Research Society Editorial Committee. (2016). Modern senior Liberal studies- Hong Kong today. Hong Kong: Modern Educational Research Society, limited.

Oriental Daily. (2019, December 23). Xiang gang wei guan : tong shi jiao chou zhong huo gen zao shen Zhong.

People’s Daily. (2019, September 27). HKSAR chief executive holds 1st community dialogue to "seek change for the betterment of Hong Kong society".

Piuchan, M., Chan, C. W., & Kaale, J. (2018). Economic and socio-cultural impacts of Mainland Chinese tourists on Hong Kong residents. Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences, 39(1), 9-14.

Press release. (2010).

Sautman, B. V., & Yan, H. (2015). Localists and ‘Locusts’ in Hong Kong: Creating a Yellow Peril-Red Menace Discourse. Localists and ‘Locusts’ in Hong Kong: Creating a Yellow Peril-Red Menace Discourse.

Ta Kun Pao. (2020, August, 30). Qing Nian you hua shuo tong shi jiao cai" xiao du" shi jiao yu hui gui zheng tu de qi dian.

Ta Kun Pao. (2020, May, 9). dang qing nian bei bang shang bao li zhan che.

Tu, H. M. (2020). JiuJiu huanbing de xianggang [Save the ill Hong Kong]. Hongkong: Chung Hwa book company

Van Dijk, T. A. (2006). Ideology and discourse analysis. Journal of political ideologies, 11(2), 115-140.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2013). Ideology and discourse. In M. Freeden, L. T. Sargent, M. Stears (ED.), The Oxford handbook of political ideologies (pp. 175-196). UK: Oxford University Press.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2015). Critical Discourse Studies: A Sociocognitive Approach. In Ruth. W., Michael. M. (eds.). Methods of Critical Discourse Studies. London: Sage Publishing.

Wang, J.Y. (2012). A Case Study of Visual Semiosis by Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis. Chinese Journal of Journalism& Communication. 12 (4), 51-56.

Wang, Y. (2019). Local identity in a global city: Hong Kong localist movement on social media. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 36(5), 419-433.

Wing-Chun Ng, T. (2020). Recontextualisation of Beijing’s voice: A critical discourse analysis of hegemony and resistance in Hong Kong political discourse. Discourse & Society, 31(5), 540–561.

Wong, T. H. (2012). De-Universalizing Hegemonies: Chinese School Policies in Postwar Singapore and Hong Kong. Multicultural Education Review, 4(1), 90-118.

Wu, L.F., Huang, L., Huang, T.C. & Mai, T. (2018). Aristo Senior Secondary Liberal Studies: Today’s Hong Kong, the 4th edition. Hong Kong: Aristo Educational Press Ltd.

Wu, W. (2020). Politics, textbooks, and the boundary of ‘official knowledge’: the case of Liberal Studies in Hong Kong. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 1-18.

Yu, F. L. T., & Kwan, D. S. (2017). Social Construction of National Reality: Chinese Consciousness versus Hong Kong Consciousness. Contemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations, 3(2), 657-686.

Yue, W.C., Ngai, P.K., Leung, W. Y., Lui, L.T.P., Leung, P.Y. (2015). Longman New Senior Liberal Studies-Hong Kong Today concise version: Hong Kong: Person.




How to Cite

Wu, Y., & Li, Y. . (2022). How China and Chinese people are visually represented: The case of a series of Liberal Studies textbooks in Hong Kong . Journal of Education Culture and Society, 13(1), 403–417.