Starting from the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, this article provides background on China’s science and technology (S&T) system and the perceived growing urgency of reforming it in order to support continuing economic growth in China. The need for reform became even more pressing once China commenced its market-oriented economic reforms in 1979. Comparative data are provided on China’s S&T sector, the processes of reforming China’s S&T system is outlined and discussed as well as changing patterns in the source of funds for its S & T research. China’s evolving technology market is given particular attention as well as its establishment of a patent system. The importance of closer ties between technology suppliers and users in China, as well as pitfalls, are given particular attention. Transition in the system has been gradual rather than of a ‘big-bang’ type. The process of reforming the system and the state of China’s current S & T system are assessed.