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‘Same, same but different’: representations of Chinese mainland and Hong Kong people in the press in post-1997 Hong Kong

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After Hong Kong’s return to Chinese Sovereignty in 1997, the terms ‘mainlander’ and ‘Hongkonger’ have been widely used by English-language media in Hong Kong to differentiate between people from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. This study examines representations of Chinese mainlanders and Hongkongers in a 17.4-million-token corpus containing 30,279 articles published between 1998 and 2019 by the South China Morning Post, a leading English-language newspaper in Hong Kong. By comparing the collocational behaviour of the noun lemmas mainlander and Hongkonger, the study identifies the topoi, or stereotypical characterizations, associated with the two groups. The analysis demonstrates the way in which the ‘othering’ of or sometimes discrimination against mainland migrants/visitors has served as part of the process through which the distinctive ‘Hongkongers’ identity’ is pronounced after the 1997-handover in Hong Kong’s English language newspaper of record.

Keywords: Chinese discourse; Chinese identity; Hong Kong discourse; Hong Kong identity; discriminative discourse; topoi; topos

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of English, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China 2: Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China 3: Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Publication date: July 4, 2022

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