Heavy loading of aerosols in China is widely known, but little is known about their impact on regional radiation budgets, which is often expressed as aerosol radiative forcing (ARF). Cloud-free direct ARF has either been estimated by models across the region or determined at a handful of locations with aerosol and/or radiation measurements. In this study, ARF is determined at 25 stations distributed across China where aerosol optical thickness has been measured since 2004. In combination with the single-scattering albedo retrieved from ground and satellite measurements, ARF was determined at all the stations at the surface, inside the atmosphere, and at the top of atmosphere (TOA). Nationwide annual and diurnal mean ARF is found to be −15.7 ± 8.9 at the surface, 0.3 ± 1.6 at the TOA, and 16.0 ± 9.2 W m−2 inside the atmosphere. These values imply that aerosols have very little impact on the atmosphere-surface system but substantially warm up the atmosphere at the expense of cooling the surface. The strong atmospheric absorption is likely to alter atmospheric thermodynamic conditions and thus affects circulation considerably.