The delineation of copyright subsistence is a focus area of the Third Amendment to the Chinese Copyright Law. This paper addresses the proposed reforms to the concept of ‘works’ in the Chinese Copyright Act in response to the challenges of the digital era and the international complaints regarding inadequate intellectual property protection in China. The amendment proposes a new definition of ‘works’ and introduces new types of work such as audiovisual works, computer programs and works of applied art. The paper further discusses the conundrum of the copyright protection of ‘illegal works’ in the aftermath of the US-China TRIPS dispute, as well as the controversial topic of orphan works. The findings of this research indicate that Chinese lawmakers intend to include a potentially wide range of subjects under copyright protection following the paradigm that innovation and creation flourish with strong intellectual property protection. However, this is realizable only via an appropriate copyright enforcement mechanism, which is most essential for the current copyright law reform in China.