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This paper examines music education's legitimation of values as a means of preparing students for entry into the new 'knowledge society' of the People's Republic of China in a global age. It explores the ways in which values education relates to the teaching of both musical and non-musical meanings in the dual context of nationalism and globalization, and discusses some problems that values education faces in school music classrooms. It examines the ways in which globalization has pressured values education into resolving the apparent contradiction between national identity and national unity in the ever-changing play of Chinese history and politics. It concludes with a discussion of how music education might juggle three pairs of apparently contradictory relationships in the curriculum: between contemporary cultural and social values on the one hand, and traditional Chinese and Communist ideologies on the other; between collectivism and individualism; and between national and global cultures.