Hong Kong Youths’ National Identity: Impacts of Mainland Exchange Programmes, Study Tours and Volunteer Activities

>> back
Principal Investigator
Dr. Annie Cheng
Research Fellow of APCLC,
The Education University of Hong Kong
Dr. Elson Szeto
Funding Source
Public Policy Research Grant of Central Policy Unit, HKSARG
Project Duration


Since the handover of Hong Kong to China, “National Identity” has become a vital focus promoted by the HKSAR government. According to the poll by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme (2010 – 2015), young people aged between 18 and 29 have the least and decreasing recognition, an average 5.5%, of their Chinese identity. Past research has shown that student participation in exchange programmes and study tours provides the possibility of new formulations of national identity. Since the Policy Address 2008, the HKSAR government has been actively expanding and exploring the feasibility of Mainland exchange programmes to enhance our youths’ understanding of Chineseness and to strengthen their national identity. Schools have been sponsored or subsidized with the costs of Mainland exchange activities through various grants and channels. Considering the significantly increasing number of Hong Kong youths who have participated in these Mainland exchange programmes and study tours, however, the effectiveness of these activities is understudied. At present, there is lack of systematic research on the impacts of these activities and the ways in which they influence our students’ perceptions of national identity. Thus, this study aims to 

  1. examine secondary students’ perceptions of their national identity;
  2. evaluate whether the Mainland exchange programmes or study tours have influences on students’ perceptions of national identity;
  3. identify which type(s) of those activities (in terms of content, duration, destination, and organization of meetings, etc.) are the most effective in terms of enhancing their formation of national identity; and
  4. identify what factors of Mainland exchange programmes or study tours attribute to their change in national identity.
The findings of this study can inform policy makers how to formulate effective strategies for promoting national identity through future Mainland exchange activities. In addition, it can provide significant feedback for secondary schools to organize meaningful Mainland exchange activities or study tours. Ultimately, it may enhance Hong Kong youths’ national identity.