The Chinese Government and the Globalization of Table Tennis: A Case Study in Local Responses to the Globalization of Sport

Yu Wen Chen, Tien Chin Tan*, Ping Chao Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to explore the relationship between the Chinese government and the globalization of sport. The analysis looks at how the Chinese government has developed and managed its national sport, table tennis, as the sport became more and more globalized. This research developed a theoretical framework and an analytical tool based on Houlihan's model for analyzing global reach and local response in sport and adopted a qualitative approach of content analysis and semi-structured interviews. A total of 16 interviewees contributed to this study, consisting of officials from Chinese sports administrations and Chinese scholars specializing in sports studies. This study found that the Chinese government has responded to the challenges associated with the globalization of table tennis in the dimensions of participating in international organizations and commercialization in two and five different ways, respectively. As this case study of China shows, a country's response to the globalization of sport is not limited to just one of the three types of responses described by Houlihan: passive, participative, or conflictual. In fact, a combination of two types is also possible. In China's case, the response has been both participativeand conflictual, but never passive. This study concludes that since the Chinese government habitually prioritizes the interests of the state ahead of everything else, it has never loosened its grip on the development of table tennis. It has so far demonstrated its ability to control resources when dealing with the impacts associated with the globalization of table tennis. China's socialist market economy model, which features a dual-track system and socialism with Chinese characteristics, has generated a unique set of values that serves to rationalize whatever conflicts arise between capitalism and socialism. Although the Chinese government currently handles its relationship with globalization effectively and flexibly, the reform and opening up policies in China are expanding and may expose conflicts of interest between the Communist regime, enterprises, and professional players in the foreseeable future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1348
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jul 3


  • China Table Tennis Super League (CTTSL)
  • Globalization
  • Wolf Breeding Program
  • professional sport
  • reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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