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Portraying the ‘Chinese international students’: A review of English-language and Chinese-language literature on Chinese international students (2015-2020)

Xu, Cora Lingling (2022) 'Portraying the ‘Chinese international students’: A review of English-language and Chinese-language literature on Chinese international students (2015-2020).', Asia Pacific Education Review, 23 (1). pp. 151-167.


The Chinese international students are often portrayed in a monolithic manner in popular discourse. To offer a more comprehensive and critical representation of the Chinese international students, this paper conducts a thematic narrative review of 128 English-language and 74 Chinese-language peer-reviewed articles published between 2015 and 2020. Drawing on post-colonial theories, this review identifies four subject positions portrayed of the Chinese international students: the (1) neoliberal, (2) political, (3) pedagogic, and (4) racialised subjects. This paper celebrates heartening developments in the literature which affirms Chinese international students’ epistemic contributions, legitimate pedagogic needs, notable heterogeneity, and wide-ranging political, cultural and pedagogic agencies. It also highlights how aspects of these subject positions have exercised epistemic injustice on the Chinese international students. Meanwhile, it pinpoints the Chinese international students’ acquiescence in exacerbating global education inequalities. Among the first to bring the dominant English-language and ‘local’ perspectives of Chinese-language literature in dialogue, this article notes divergent focuses and indicates unique contributions to historicising research on Chinese international students made by the latter. This article challenges popular perceptions of Chinese international students, questions production of knowledge, and pinpoints future research directions.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Chinese international students, epistemic justice, subject position, post-colonial
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Publisher statement:Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date accepted:02 November 2021
Date deposited:02 November 2021
Date of first online publication:27 November 2021
Date first made open access:29 November 2021

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