“Together, we fight the virus”

An exploratory study of the use of metadiscourse in Hong Kong’s Chinese newspapers


  • Victor Ho The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Vincy Zhang The Hong Kong Polytechnic University




metadiscourse, persuasion, newspaper genres, freedom of press, self-censorship


This exploratory qualitative study was conducted in the summer of 2020 when Hong Kong people probably needed a substantial boost in their confidence in themselves, the government, and the future. Through the lens of metadiscourse, we investigated the way the city’s Chinese newspapers attempted the confidence boost in editorials and opinion columns – the two newspaper genres that are probably the most persuasive because of the inclusion and expression of the journalists’ and newspapers’ stance and ideologies. Drawing upon metadiscourse as the analytical framework, the article analyses the rhetoric of the discourse of 31 editorials and opinion columns extracted from five key Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong. The patterns of use of metadiscourse in the two genres have been identified. The roles played by Chinese newspapers that circulated in Hong Kong while the city was undergoing one of the hardest periods in its history are discussed.

Author Biographies

Victor Ho, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Victor Ho completed his PhD in linguistics at Macquarie University, Australia. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of English, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He is a member of the University’s Research Centre for Professional Communication in English. His research interests include pragmatics, professional communication, and English for academic purposes. He has published in the Journal of Pragmatics, Discourse Studies, English for Academic Purposes, and Journal of Politeness Research.

Vincy Zhang, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Vincy Zhang obtained a Master of Arts degree in English Language Studies from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. She has been a Research Associate at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the past six years.


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How to Cite

Ho, V. ., & Zhang, V. (2021). “Together, we fight the virus”: An exploratory study of the use of metadiscourse in Hong Kong’s Chinese newspapers. East Asian Pragmatics, 6(2), 161–183. https://doi.org/10.1558/eap.18116