We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Discursive construction of national and political identities in China.

Cao, Qing (2019) 'Discursive construction of national and political identities in China.', in The Routledge handbook of Chinese discourse analysis. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 431-443.


This chapter examines the discursive formation, features and strategies of identities in modern China, focusing on the notions of nation and politics. 1 It discusses the origins, development and functions of China’s multiple identities and how the circulation of identity discourse interacts with broader socio-political processes and shapes the understanding of Chinese identities amid China’s ascent as a major power. Identity is understood as being continually constructed and reproduced through discourse that mediates the relationships between social practice, institutions and values. The chapter argues that the historical legacy of the sharp break with the past in the early 20th century created an identity crisis, generating conflicting visions for the future and perennial political struggles to realize these visions. National and political identities have been at the heart of these visions and struggles as identity politics became the primary domain of the nation- and state-building project that constitutes the core of China’s quest for modernity. Seeking a moral high ground and political legitimacy, these visions and struggles are played out in the symbolic world of discourse, which is no less fierce than the physical world of politics.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge handbook of Chinese discourse analysis on 24 January 2019 available online:
Date accepted:01 October 2018
Date deposited:06 June 2019
Date of first online publication:24 January 2019
Date first made open access:24 July 2020

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar