This paper reviews the evolution of policies and practices concerning open innovation in China. Based on evidence from firm-level case studies, it analyses various practices of open innovation in indigenous Chinese companies. It finds that the Chinese firms have in practice employed a variety of open innovation models since the reforms of science and technology system in mid-1980s. Policies introduced by Chinese government in respect to acquisition of foreign technology, industry-university collaboration and the ‘go global’ strategy have in particular encouraged Chinese firms to adopt certain types of open innovation model. All this has promoted the diffusion of open innovation in China. Areas for future research are also discussed.