The article analyses e-government progress in China. It provides a brief overview of benchmarking studies and their evaluation of China, plus a contextual analysis of e-government initiatives in China and of the changing official position witnessed in the past two decades. It then takes stock of e-government in China in the first quarter of 2004. On this basis, it considers the significance of contemporary e-government activity for Chinese governance. The argument is that e-government is currently having no more than a limited impact on the Chinese public sector. However, there are strong grounds for optimism about future development. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.