The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on caring and caregiving in Chinese families in relation to the contribution made by historical and social processes The beliefs and traditions of care appearing in the professional and popular literature are explored to enable comparison with recent research from Hong Kong, China and the United Kingdom Caring emerges as profoundly complicated and ambivalent, drawing on notions of morality, obligation, love, kinship and gender responsibility Furthermore, caring in contemporary Chinese families in Hong Kong appears to have more similarities than differences with western families, possibly due to changing kinship networks. Such conclusions have particular relevance for nursing in the light of recent policy directives in Hong Kong promoting the role of the families in caring for their dependent members based on the assumption that families can and will care