In this paper we inventory the continental diatom taxa described from inland waters in China, from the first species descriptions dating back to 1848 through 2019. China’s geography and hydrography are complex, including the world’s highest mountains, many large rivers, salty lakes, and large karst regions. From this area, a total of 1128 taxa have been described from China over this time period. We examine the number of taxa described in ca. 20-year intervals and note the periods of time of no to few descriptions, versus time intervals with many taxon descriptions. Early on, taxon descriptions of freshwater diatoms from China were done by mostly by Europeans working alone, and the time frame of 1948 to 1967 had few descriptions, as a devasting famine and the cultural revolution impacted scientific work and productivity. B.V. Skvortzov produced a large number of taxon descriptions, during his time in residence in Harbin, later while in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and even posthumously. More recently, a wide range of labs and collaborations across China, and with a diverse array of international partners, is ushering in a new, robust era of research on the biodiversity of continental diatoms. A few areas of research and work for the future are discussed.