This article summarizes observations made by the author during a recent trip to China and compares these views to those of other observers over the past decade. The discussion is undoubtedly influenced by the Chinese tendency to speak in terms of the ideal rather than what exists. It was often difficult to sort out "what is" from "what ought to be," even though our hosts appeared very candid, and, for the most part, our observations confirmed what we were told. Interpretation of observations is also colored by China's new surge of leadership, which causes health care policies to be in a continual state of transition. This makes any paper on contemporary Chinese health care somewhat outdated by the time it is published. However, there appear to be larger concerns reflecting basic Chinese attitudes toward health care that have evolved during the post "Liberation" period and which underlie day-to-day policy fluctuations. The analysis which follows attempts to isolate basic trends from more transitory events to clarify the the essential aspects of Chinese health care policy.