Skip to main content

Dr Qing Cao

Associate Professor

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor in the School of Modern Languages and CulturesA14+44 (0) 191 33 43417


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 monograph that examines the pivotal role of the late Qing press in transforming China's universalist empire into a modern nation-state. The book is based on a project 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 investigates 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. I am also working on another publication project as the section edtior of the Chinese Film, Media and Communication which is part of the new Routledge Research Encyclopedia on Chinese Studies. 

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, China's diplomatic language, 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 interests

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


Authored book

Book review

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

Chapter in book

Edited book

Edited Journal

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

Journal Article

  • Cao, Qing (2018). The adaption of Western Ideas in Late Qing Press: A Translingual Investigation. Social Scientist 32(11): 11-19.
  • Cao, Qing (2018). A Corpus-based Investigation of Guomin. Journal of Chinese Sociolinguistics 31(2): 13-28.
  • 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 & Wu, Doreen (2017). Modern Chinese Identities at the Crossroads: Introduction. Critical Arts 31(6): 1-8.
  • 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 (1999). Signification of Hong Kong’s Handover: the Case of the British Press. Journal of International Communication 6(2): 71-89.
  • 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.

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). Deconstructing China Threat. Ming Pao Monthly 38(11): 132.
  • Cao, Qing (2003). China's Position in the New Global Structure. Ming Pao Monthly 38(1): 129.
  • Cao, Qing (2003). Tony Blair's Foreign Policy and its Impact. Ming Pao Monthly 38(5): 26-28.

Supervision students