This literature review documents English and Chinese language research into copyright policy in China. It is supplemented by news and specialist trade reports on the topic. The paper locates copyright policy within a wider context that is defined by: 1) the effects of digitalization on the Chinese music industry; 2) the impact of China’s engagement with the global economy; and 3) initiatives taken by the Chinese government to develop its creative industries. Copyright policy is a product of all three, framed by the distinctive features of the Chinese political system and by the emergence of China as a key player on the global stage. The story of copyright policy in China is symptomatic of the country’s changing international role and its internal politics. The latter is marked by the rise of industry stakeholders who have played a decisive part in shaping policy, and by a desire to present China as a source of creativity (rather than copying). The former, it is suggested, is marked by a shift from China as a ‘norm taker’ to China as a ‘norm maker’ in the conduct of global relations.