Climate change poses great risks for China, which makes adaptation an essential response. However, adaptation planning and implementation are still at a preliminary stage with respect to the theoretical framework and methodology. This article focuses on the status, problems and basic needs as regards adaptation to climate change, and outlines the operational framework that the government is seeking to pursue for China’s adapting to climate change. The conclusion is that, to satisfy the basic needs of development, it is necessary to clarify development-oriented and incremental adaptation. Furthermore measures to enhance adaptive capacity can be classified as infrastructure-based, technology-based and institutional. Lastly the authors stress the importance of appraising adaptation actions and measures from an economic perspective.