The study described in this paper examined the national identity tension that often occurs between Chinese international students and Western host country members. Research questions guiding the study were: How does the experience of studying in New Zealand provide challenges for Chinese international identity, and how do Chinese students reflect their cognitions of national identity in everyday life. Case study was used as a method to collect data from 20 Chinese international students. Cross-national discussions of China from the participants’ life experiences reveal a complex, sometimes contradictory, relationship between the individual and state, which is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and context, and provides a critical reflection on Chinese citizens. Drawing on interviews of Chinese students at a New Zealand university, this study showed that these Chinese international students are struggling with a changeable national identity which is relevant to their overseas experience, family history and education background.


National Identity, Overseas Chinese Students, Case Study, Metaphor

Author Bio(s)

Xiudi Zhang is Education Facilitator and assistant research manager with the Freedom Institute of Higher Education, New Zealand. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: x.zhang@auckland.ac.nz.


This work was supported by the Chinese Scholarship Council.

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