Traditional Knowledge, science and China's pride: how a TCM social media account legitimizes TCM treatment of Covid-19

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

5 Citations (Scopus)


The legitimation of Chinese medicine has long been a politically and morally charged subject in China since the early twentieth century. In recent years, there is an apparent surge of enthusiasm in developing and promoting Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as evidenced by the state's frequent lauding of its advantages and the implementation of a series of supportive policies and regulations. During the Covid-19 pandemic in China, TCM has again gained ample attention in major state-owned media outlets due to its proclaimed effects in treating Covid-19. In this article, I will conduct an interdisciplinary study of the semiotic work dedicated to legitimating TCM treatment of Covid-19 in the social media account of an official TCM institution. Drawing on critical discourse analysis and textual analysis supported by reference to history and anthropology of medicine, I will examine closely how the above-mentioned semiotic work is achieved through reference to a range of theoretical and moral arguments. Moreover, the paradoxes and inconsistencies in this process of semiotic construction will be discussed to shed light on the deeper issues concerning the entangled relationship of health science and politics in China, as well as the epistemological difficulties in promoting TCM inside and outside China.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Semiotics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2021

Bibliographical note

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  • Covid-19
  • Legitimation
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • moralization
  • nationalism


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