Decreased methane emissions from paddy rice may have contributed to the decline in the rate of increase of global atmospheric methane (CH4) concentration over the last 20 years. In China, midseason paddy drainage, which reduces growing season CH4 fluxes, was first implemented in the early 1980s, and has gradually replaced continuous flooding in much of the paddy area. We constructed a regional prediction for China's rice paddy methane emissions using the DNDC biogeochemical model. Results of continuous flooding and midseason drainage simulations for all paddy fields in China were combined with regional scenarios for the timing of the transition from continuous flooding to predominantly mid-season drainage to generate estimates of total methane flux for 1980–2000. CH4 emissions from China's paddy fields were reduced over that period by ∼5 Tg CH4 yr−1.