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China as Number One?

The Emerging Values of a Rising Power

Subjects: Asian Studies, China, Political Science, Political Behavior and Public Opinion
Open Access : 9780472903733, 248 pages, 36 figures, 64 tables, 6 x 9, February 2024
Hardcover : 9780472076352, 248 pages, 36 figures, 64 tables, 6 x 9, February 2024
Paperback : 9780472056354, 248 pages, 36 figures, 64 tables, 6 x 9, February 2024

Open access version made available with the support of The Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies (LRCCS)
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Examining the contemporary rise in China’s political, economic, and military power through the opinions of its citizens

Table of contents


List of Tables and Figures

Preface, Mary E. Gallagher and Yang Zhong

Chapter 1. Introduction, Ronald Inglehart and Yang Zhong 

Chapter 2.   Democratic Authoritarianism: A Study of Chinese Political Orientations. Wenfang Tang   

Chapter 3. Political Participation in China, Lingnan He and Dali L. Yang

Chapter 4 Postmaterialism in China, Yu Yan                              

Chapter 5.  Contained Emancipative Values: Waves of Conservative and Liberal Trends in China, John James 

Chapter 6. The Rise and Fall of Trust in Transitional China, Alfred M. Wu, Eduardo Araral, and Biao Huang

Chapter 7.  Attitudes toward Religion, Science and Technology in China, Yang Zhong 

Chapter 8.  Conclusions, Yang Zhong and Ronald Inglehart

Contributors’ Biographies



One of the most significant global events in the last forty years has been the rise of China— economically, technologically, politically, and militarily. The question on people's minds for decades has been whether China will replace the United States as a superpower in the near future. But for China, this power must be comprehensive — having strong economic and militant forces are only two pieces of the puzzle. China must also possess soft power, such as attractive ideologies, values, and culture.

China as Number One? explores China’s soft powers through the eyes of Chinese citizens. Utilizing data from the World Values Survey, the contributors to this collection analyze the potential soft power of a rising China by examining its residents' social values. A comprehensive study of changes and continuities in the political and social values of Chinese citizens, the book examines findings in the context of evolutionary modernization theory and cross-national comparison.

Yang Zhong is Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Ronald F. Inglehart was Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Michigan. In his lifetime, Inglehart published over 400 peer-reviewed articles and fourteen authored or co-authored books. China as Number One? is his final book.

“China’s rise requires greater understanding, not only of its leaders, but of the values of the Chinese people. Here top scholars provide a comprehensive overview of Chinese attitudes toward politics, society, and morals, and they do so in the global comparative context provided by the World Values Survey. The variety and depth of the data and analyses preclude glib stereotypes, and they yield a nuanced and complex social portrait.”

- Brantly Womack, University of Virginia

“This is a very timely study of changing political values in China based on the most recent wave of the World Values Survey in 2018. With Ronald F. Inglehart’s recent passing, it is a fitting tribute to him.”

- Bruce J. Dickson, George Washington University

China as Number One? is firmly set in a prominent and influential theoretical frame of modernization theory, or evolutionary modernization theory, and makes important theoretical contributions to the ongoing debate on the relationship among economic development, cultural change, and democratization. The volume provides very rich contextual information and in-depth discussions about Chinese culture, politics, and society, which are not easily available in other works on China.”

- Jie Chen, Southern University of Science and Technology and James Madison University

“This book examines the changes and continuities in mass political and cultural values in a rising/modernizing China using various waves of the World Value Surveys, and in the process addresses the important question of whether China can become the world’s leading nation from the perspective of soft power. The book will be of great interest to scholars of Chinese politics, political culture, and public opinion, as well as journalists and the general public.”

- Haifeng Huang, University of California, Merced

"Citing numerous ways that China has made enormous strides, such as its meteoric economic rise and its impressive results in high-tech fields such as artificial intelligence, solar energy, 5G, biotechnology, and quantum computing, the authors conclude that what it still lacks is an appealing alternative set of values and culture with the strength to challenge the dominant soft power of the U.S. Rated: Recommended."

- S.C. Hart, William and Mary