Document Type

Working Paper

Department/ Unit

David C. Lam Institute for East-West Studies


The main purpose of this study is to examine the changes in national identity among children in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan before, during and after the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. It consists of three phases. The study reported herein belonged to Phase 1. Phases 2 and 3 will take place in mid-August and December 2008, respectively. The roles played by identification with sport and physical activity level in the formation of national identity among Chinese children from the three regions is also investigated. Group differences in this identity with regard to sex, age, place of birth/residence, identification with sport and physical activity level is examined. The participants are 480 boys and 447 girls aged 12 to 17 who attend junior-secondary and senior-secondary schools in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. A set of validated questionnaires is administered to assess changes in national identity at three time points. Correlation analysis of the pre-Games questionnaire reveals that national identity and identification with sport and national identity and physical activity are weakly associated. Multiple regression analysis was employed to examine the contribution of different constructs to the children’s national identity. Only place of birth/residence and identification with sport are found to be significant predictors of national identity. The results of an independent t-test indicate that junior-secondary students have significantly lower levels of national identity and identification with sport, but higher levels of physical activity, than the senior-secondary students. Although no significant differences in national identity are found between the sexes, the boys scored significantly higher than the girls in identification with sport and physical activity levels. One-way ANOVA demonstrates that the “China born-China resident” group has significantly higher levels of physical activity than the other three groups. In summary, the Phase 1 cross-sectional data reveal that mainland Chinese children demonstrated the greatest level of national identity among the three regions before the Beijing Olympic Games 2008. This suggests that place of birth/residence makes the greatest contribution to the formation of national identity. The role of identification with sport and physical activity level had very limited predictive ability in the dependent variable. To further explore the associations between the constructs, repeated measures are imperative to track the changes in the variables during and after the Games.

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