Anti-Black sentiments in Chinese Weibo discourse: a critical discourse historical analysis

Jiapei GU, Janet HO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Diplomatic ties have deepened between China and Africa. However, unlike the friendly rhetoric at the State level, racist issues at the individual and societal levels, which are under-researched, are becoming increasingly salient in the Chinese context. Analysing 2766 posts and 13 477 comments from Weibo, this study deploys the 2021 Shadeed Abdulmateen murder case in Ningbo to investigate the online racial discourse that Chinese Weibo users construct around Black people. While thematic analysis shows that racism in China comprises a complex combination of anti-Black, anti-government, and anti-social class attitudes, critical discourse analysis identifies the discursive strategies used to construct the dichotomy between “positive Chinese” and “negative Black people". Specifically, the argumentation strategy justifies exclusionary practices against Black people in China, whereas the predicational strategy criminalises the Black community. Moreover, the nomination strategy discursively represents Black people as foreign threats and animals. Lastly, this study also reveals the orthographic manoeuvrings contrived by Weibo users to avoid censorship of racist language use on Weibo.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Semiotics
Early online date11 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • critical discourse analysis
  • discursive representations
  • online discourse
  • China-Africa relations
  • Black people in China
  • racism
  • China–Africa relations
  • Critical discourse analysis


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