Over the past 20 years, emergency medicine (EM) in China has been through a period of rapid development. This included the formal establishment of professional association of EM in 1986 and the establishment of ED in all county-level hospitals across the country in the late 1990s. In line with the rapid economic development of China, ED have been equipped with appropriate ‘hardware’ equipment, but the ‘software’ part of the ED system remains underdeveloped. Doctors do not usually work exclusively in ED, but on a rotational basis, while also working as specialists in their own departments, such as medicine and surgery. EM in China remains underdeveloped, at least partly, for two main reasons: the current financial status of the health-care system and lack of sufficient numbers of qualified EM specialists. Chinese education and training systems are now beginning to produce high-quality emergency specialists, although there is not yet consistency across all courses. In Australia, the specialty of EM is well developed and, as such, this country is well placed to contribute to the development of ED in China.