Citizenship and National Identity in Chinese Higher Education,1919-1937

Miss Zhihang Li1

1The University Of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

In recent years, there has been considerable interest in modern Chinese nationalism. The notion of China being a civilization state or a nation-state has generated intense discussion: some scholars tend to identify internal factors—demographic and political—as crucial to explain China’s modern transformation. As Andy Green convincingly demonstrated, the nature and the state and the process of state formation, played the most decisive role in the national education systems and the spread of mass education. In 1919, the May Fourth Movement started the new process of modern education, and by 1927 National Government of Nanjing was established, national identity became the common pursuit of higher education. There are three major aims. The first is about the intellectual origins of modern Chinese nationalism–it learns from the Western Nationalism or it is the continuation of traditional Chinese part, even or the combination of two. Second, we need to conceptualize the term “Nationalism” and “Citizenship” according to the Chinese social-cultural background. Then the relationship between them in this period need to be deeply thought: Is it totally different or like heads and tails of a coin? Finally, we could understand the cultural mission of Chinese universities and their contribution to the national dialogue.


Zhihang Li is the Phd candidate in the Faculty of education in the University of Sydney. Her research is mainly in the fields of history of education as well as comparative, development education, in which she explores the interconnections between changes in history, citizenship and nation building.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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