Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 207–227 | Cite as

Did the Olympics help the nation branding of China? Comparing public perception of China with the Olympics before and after the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Hong Kong

  • Annisa Lai LeeEmail author
Original Article


The purpose of this article is to investigate whether a large-scale sporting event can help to brand a nation. In particular, this study will examine the effect that the 2008 Beijing Olympics has had on the branding image of China. Two surveys conducted in 2005 and 2009 in Hong Kong are used to compare China's Image (CI) with the Olympic Image (OI) to gauge how much China shares the Olympic spirit before and after the Games. The 1000 interviewees of each survey answered the same questionnaire about 15 attributes classified under three sub-brands that contribute to the OI: (1) ‘sport spirit’ on the functional level; (2) ‘celebration of community’ on the emotional level; and (3) ‘human values’ on the ‘self-expressive’ level. Results show that overall, the OI is perceived better than the CI in both 2005 and 2009. Using the OI as a benchmark, China shares more in sub-brand ‘sports spirit’ and less in ‘celebration of community’ and ‘human values’ with the OI in 2009 than in 2005. Out of the 15 attributes, CI is perceived better than the OI in only two attributes ‘be the best’ and ‘determination’ within the ‘sports spirit’ sub-brand in 2009 than 2005. In 2005, CI was better than the OI in ‘human rights’ and ‘honor’ but the effects diminished to become the same with the OI in 2009. In conclusion, the CI has improved in ‘sports spirit’ only when compared to the OI after the Beijing Olympics.


national image China Image Olympics nation branding Hong Kong 



I would like to thank Professor Clement So, Director of the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the reviewers of this paper for their kind assistance and useful comments. One of the surveys is funded by RCG Research Grant Direct Allocation (2020827) of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Humanities Building, New Asia College, The Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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