This article examines how Chinese intellectuals understand mass nationalism in China. Understanding their perspective is useful when analyzing the meaning and repercussions of nationalist trends throughout the 1990s, as well as its future course. While playing a major role in its revival, Chinese intellectuals actually have a very pragmatic view of nationalism based on China’s goal of building a prosperous and powerful nation. They also play a role in influencing public opinion and the government’s policy-making process. In the short to mid term, the public expression of anti-U.S. or anti-Japanese sentiments through nationalism is not likely to become extreme, as this would run counter to China’s current development strategies and goals.