Skip to main content Accessibility help

Nationalism, Patriotism and Foreign Policy Attitudes among Chinese University Students*

  • Elina Sinkkonen (a1)


Does empirical evidence support treating “nationalism” and “patriotism” as separate concepts in China and is there a relationship between strong nationalist/patriotic attitudes and foreign policy preferences? To analyse the construction of Chinese national identity, Chinese university students (N = 1346) took part in a survey in Beijing in spring 2007. The data supported the assumption of a conceptual separation between nationalism and patriotism. CCP members and students from rural backgrounds were more nationalistic than non-members and students with urban upbringings. Moreover, nationalism had a stronger link to foreign policy preferences than patriotism, and respondents with a greater degree of nationalism were less likely to favour international cooperation and more likely to prefer protectionist policies. The associations of nationalism and patriotism with foreign policy attitudes, and the contribution of other potential explanatory factors to the relationship between nationalism, patriotism and policy attitudes were explored with linear regression models.



Hide All

Research for this study was supported by the China's War with Japan project at Oxford University, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The author wishes to thank Rana Mitter, Peter Gries, Marko Elovainio, Amy King and Lily Chang for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this research report.



Hide All
Billig, Michael. 1995. Banal Nationalism. London: Sage Publications.
Carlson, Allen. 2009. “A flawed perspective: the limitations inherent within the study of Chinese nationalism.” Nations and Nationalism 15(1), 2035.
Chen, Jie. 2004. Popular Political Support in Urban China. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Chen, Shengluo. 2011. “Survey study on Chinese university students' perceptions of the political systems of China and the United States.” Chinese Education and Society 44(2–3), 1357.
Connor, Walker. 1994. Ethnonationalism: The Quest for Understanding. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Davidov, Eldad. 2009. “Measurement equivalence of nationalism and constructive patriotism in the ISSP: 34 countries in a comparative perspective.” Political Analysis 17(1), 119.
Dekker, Henk, Malová, Darina and Hoogendoorn, Sander. 2003. “Nationalism and its explanations.” Political Psychology 24(2), 345376.
Downs, Erica, and Saunders, Phillip. 1999. “Legitimacy and the limits of nationalism: China and the Diaoyu Islands.” International Security 23(3), 114146.
Fairbrother, Gregory. 2003. “The effects of political education and critical thinking on Hong Kong and mainland Chinese university students' national attitudes.” British Journal of Sociology Education 24(5), 605620.
Fairbrother, Gregory. 2008. “Rethinking hegemony and resistance to political education in mainland China and Hong Kong.” Comparative Education Review 52(3), 381412.
Gries, Peter H., Zhang, Qingmin, Crowson, H. Michael and Cai, Huajian. 2011. “Patriotism, nationalism, and China's US policy: structures and consequences of Chinese national identity.” The China Quarterly 205, 117.
Guo, Gang. 2005. “Party recruitment of college students in China.” Journal of Contemporary China 14(43), 371393.
Huxley, Rachel, Neil, Andrew and Collins, Rory. 2002. “Unravelling the fetal origins hypothesis: is there really an inverse association between birth weight and subsequent blood pressure?” The Lancet 360(31 August), 659665.
International Social Survey Programme Data Archive/ GESIS Data Archive. 2003. National Identity survey 2003, Accessed 18 January 2012.
Ioannidis, John, Trikalinos, Thomas, Ntzani, Evangelia and Contopoulos-Ioannidis, Despina. 2003. “Genetic associations in large versus small studies: an empirical assessment.” The Lancet 361(15 February) 567571.
Johnston, Alastair I. 2004. “Chinese middle class attitudes towards international affairs: nascent liberalization?The China Quarterly 179, 603628.
Kosterman, Rick, and Feshbach, Seymour. 1989. “Toward a measure of patriotic and nationalistic attitudes.” Political Psychology 10(2), 257273.
Laliberté, André, and Lantegne, Marc. 2008. The Chinese Party-State in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge.
Liu, Yunshan, and Wang, Zhiming. 2009. “Women entering the elite group: a limited progress.” Frontiers in Education in China 4(1), 2755.
Reilly, James. 2010. “Online Chinese nationalism toward Japan.” In Shen, Simon and Breslin, Shaun (eds.), Online Chinese Nationalism and China's Bilateral Relations. Plymouth: Lexington Books, 4572.
Reilly, James. 2012. Strong Society, Smart State. The Rise of Public Opinion in China's Japan Policy. New York: Columbia University Press.
Schatz, Robert T., Staub, Ervin and Lavine, Howard. 1999. “On the varieties of national attachment: blind versus constructive patriotism.” Political Psychology 20(1), 151174.
Smith, Anthony. 2009. Ethno-symbolism and Nationalism. A Cultural Approach. London: Routledge.
Tang, Wenfang, and Darr, Benjamin. 2012. “Chinese nationalism and its political and social origins.” Journal of Contemporary China 21(77), 811826.
University, Tsinghua. 2008. Qinghua daxue nianjian 2007 (Tsinghua University Yearbook 2007). Beijing: Qinghua daxue.
Yan, Wei. 2007. “Young blood. Under-35s are infusing new life to the Party.” Beijing Review 50(26), 1819.
Zhao, Dingxin. 2002. “Student nationalism in China.” Problems of Post-Communism 49(6), 1628.
Zhao, Dingxin. 2003. “Nationalism and authoritarianism: student–government conflicts during the 1999 Beijing student protests.” Asian Perspective 27(1), 534.
Zheng, Yongnian. 1999. Discovering Chinese Nationalism in China. Modernization, Identity and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zheng, Yongnian. 2010. The Communist Party as Organizational Emperor. Culture, Reproduction and Transformation. London: Routledge.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Nationalism, Patriotism and Foreign Policy Attitudes among Chinese University Students*

  • Elina Sinkkonen (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.