China has undertaken considerable efforts to earn its current status as the world's leading fish producer, processor and re-exporter. Chinese distant water fishers have also been generously supported by policies and incentives in order to capitalize on the increasing global demand for fish. But the country's willingness and ability to address associated illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices have been keenly questioned, due to the absence of a responsive national plan of action supported by comprehensive and efficacious implementation measures. This article assesses the significant concerns surrounding the competitiveness of Chinese fisheries in the longer term, given that trade and market-based measures are now strongly depended on to combat IUU fishing. Serious efforts must be made to restructure and improve China's current fisheries management, in order that it be aligned with internationally agreed standards to control IUU fishing.