Histories of racist thought tend to give only incidental treatment to the depiction of China in modern race theory. Meanwhile, scholarship on Western views of China frequently alludes to anti-Chinese racism but rarely analyzes high-brow race theory. This article aims to contribute to the understanding of both racist thought and Western views of China by examining the notions about China elaborated by Arthur de Gobineau, one of the leading race theorists of the nineteenth century. Gobineau's depiction of China is subjected to a close reading within the framework of his vision of world history, followed by consideration of the reception of his racial ideas and their possible political influence. The discussion highlights the compatibility of racist thought with antiprogressivism and antimodernism.