Junior secondary school students regard themselves more as Chinese nationals than their senior counterparts, a survey by a youth group has found. Students from Form One to Three interviewed by the Hok Yau Club in December rated an average of 4.96 marks on the statement 'I am Chinese', compared with 4.55 by older students, on a six-point scale. The group interviewed 3,808 students from 40 schools, with 56 per cent of them from Form One to Form Three and the remainder from senior forms. The younger students expressed stronger sentiments for China, rating an average mark of 4.12 on the statement 'I love China', while students from Form Four to Seven only scored 3.87. Students in junior forms also had stronger feelings for the handover, registering an average of 4.36 points for the statement 'I feel happy about the reunification with China', while older students scored 3.87. A spokesman for the student group, Antony Tam Kar-hung, said the older students scored lower marks because they were more conservative. He said these students had experienced the financial crisis in 1997, the Sars outbreak and the march by more than 500,000 people on July 1, 2003 which forced the government to shelve legislation on a national security law. He said all these events had left a strong impression on the senior form students. But in terms of the average for all respondents, the rating for the statement 'I am Chinese' has risen steadily. The average was 4.78 last year, compared to 4.59 in 2005 and 4.47 in 2004. 'The change is very small, but we still see an increasing trend for secondary school students to identify themselves as Chinese nationals. 'The rate is the highest since we began this annual study in 2002,' said Mr Tam. 'Students now have more chances to learn about China through the media, exchange programmes and at school. The more they learn about China, the more they find it easier to identify themselves as Chinese nationals.' The findings also showed Hong Kong students have higher opinions about themselves, with the average mark for Hongkongers for being polite being 5.08 compared to only 3.75 for Chinese. Hong Kong students also scored an average of 5.5 marks for being cultured, compared with 4.31 for Chinese. The students gave Hongkongers a higher average mark - 5.65 - for being corruption-free, while Chinese scored 3.81. 'There is no conflict that more students identify themselves as Chinese nationals while the majority still consider themselves as Hongkongers, as 'Chinese' in our poll means all Chinese living in China, Hong Kong and overseas,' Mr Tam said.