As a national public clinical trial registry and a recognized Primary Registry of the WHO ICTRP, the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (ChiCTR) has responsibility to disseminate knowledge about clinical trial transparency, which is an important ethical issue for healthcare studies involving humans, and to promote the quality of healthcare studies in China. This article describes the mission, policy and operation of the ChiCTR. We discuss the need to improve the quality of clinical trials and our ideas for new developments. The registration of clinical trials is an ethical responsibility and obligation for researchers. A clinical study is a public event itself, which needs the participation of the public, and its results should also be seen as a service to the public. Therefore, the public have the right to know how a study is progressing.