Publication details [#63246]

Gao, Xuesong. 2017. Linguistic instrumentalism and national language policy in Mainland China’s state print media coverage of the Protecting Cantonese Movement. Chinese Journal of Communication 10 (2) : 157–175.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher


This paper explores the Chinese government’s use of the print media to warrant the national language policy and handle individuals’ concerns about the vitality of regional varieties of the Chinese language (i.e., Cantonese) in its coverage of the Protecting Cantonese Movement (July 2010) in Guangzhou. The analysis disclosed that the Chinese government adopted a relatively reconciliatory response to the Movement, which apparently contested the relevant language policy. However, the media texts preserved the national policy of fostering Putonghua as inviolable, whereas they assigned Cantonese the role of the carrier of cultural tradition and stressed that the rise or fall of particular regional language relied on regional socioeconomic developments. Such media discussions displayed that the state carefully managed relevant discussions about the vitality of regional Chinese varieties within the discursive space defined by legalistic, cultural, and socioeconomic development discourses. These discursive boundaries reflect the dominance of linguistic instrumentalism in the Chinese government’s language policymaking.