Considerable loss of biodiversity has been occurring in China as in most developing countries and threats to biodiversity are increasing because of China's rapid rate of economic growth. China is therefore developing and considering plans and policies, with assistance from international- organisations such as the World Bank, to improve its wildlife programs systematically. However, still being a low-income country, China must carefully weigh up the economic benefits and costs, of its biodiversity conservation program- and design it to generate as much economic benefit as possible without compromising its conservation objectives. Such considerations are especially important at the local level to gain local support for conservation measures and maintain or increase local standards of living. This is illustrated by Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve in southwest China. Policy-makers recognise the importance of integrating conservation within this Reserve with harmonious economic development in the prefecture in which it is located and reject the isolated ‘island’ concept of conservation planning. Such an approach calls for regional•integration of economic development and conservation and will make for greater sustainability of conservation programs. Prospects for sustaining biodiversity in China• will be heavily influenced by socio-political factors which in tum can be expected to reflect economic considerations.