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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.

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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.

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