Booing the national anthem : Hong Kong's identities through the mirror of sport

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Journal article

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Contemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations: An International Journal

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National Sun Yat-sen University


sports policy, identity, patriotism, localism, Hong Kong


Since Hong Kong’s reversion to China in 1997, the Special Administrative Region's government and its people have been grappling with a dual-sided problem. Firstly, to adjust to being a “new” part of China and what that means in terms of national consciousness and local identities, particularly given the Beijing leaders’ expectations that Hongkongers should come to “love China”. Secondly, drawing at least in part on the past British colonial legacy, to maintain Hong Kong’s international role as a cosmopolitan and commercial city, not least through the aspiration to be “Asia’s world city”. In the past few years, however, typified most clearly in the discourse surrounding the Occupy Central movement, there has emerged a third trend, the so-called “localism”, which posits a separate and unique identity for Hong Kong. This article explores the ways in which these three competing narratives intersect in the sporting arena. Sport is frequently seen as a means to express or reflect nationalism or at the very least contribute to the formation of national identity. By using the case studies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2009 East Asian Games and recent post-Occupy sporting fixtures, it will be shown that the mixed messages coming from these activities reflect the ambivalence felt by many Hongkongers themselves about their place in China and the world.



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Copyright © National Sun Yat-sen University Aug/Sep 2016. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

This article draws in part on earlier versions presented at the Conference on the Olympics and Isms, Royal Holloway, University of London, July 201 2, and Working Paper 5-2013 prepared for the Centre for Public Policy Studies, Lingnan University (嶺南大學), Hong Kong, May 2013.

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Recommended Citation

Bridges, B. (2016). Booing the national anthem: Hong Kong's identities through the mirror of sport. Contemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations: An International Journal, 2(2), 819-843.