The dramatic changes in urban housing provision in China after 1980 have been widely described and assessed. This paper updates earlier accounts of policy change in China and reflects upon the significance of these changes for theoretical and conceptual frameworks used in comparative housing studies. Housing privatisation and commercialisation transformed the Chinese socialist housing system into a dynamic housing market but new housing problems characteristic of market economies have emerged. Government at the national level has responded by developing new policies to support affordable and social housing; and at local level various new housing provision schemes have been tested, but their scale and impact have been limited because of the priority given by the local state to economic growth and securing local land related revenues. This paper suggests that the new phase of policy involves a distinctive hybrid approach rather than convergence on familiar market based, residual or corporatist approaches.