Critical care medicine began in mainland China in the early 1980s. After almost 30 years of effort, it has been recognized as a specialty very recently. However, limited data suggest that critical care resources, especially ICU beds, are inadequate compared with those of developed countries. National critical care societies work together to set up good practice standards, and to improve academic levels with scientific meetings, education programs, and training courses. Critical care research in mainland China is beginning to evolve, with great potential for improvement.