This essay by Chunli Bai, executive vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), explains the reasons behind the rapid progress of nanotechnology in China. A key factor, says Bai, has been "extraordinary" government support for the field since the early 1980s, which led to the creation of research institutes and significant grant money. But, cautions Bai, public communication on nanotechnology research, and ongoing monitoring and assessment of nanotechnology risks is needed.