This paper examines the effect of government ownership on investment banks’ underwriting performance in China. A large number of Chinese investment banks are owned and controlled by their respective regional governments. While regional governments may capitalize on their superior local knowledge and administrative power to help affiliated investment banks identify and land high quality local issuers, they may also leverage affiliated underwriters to facilitate the capital market access of those underperformed but socially and/or politically desirable local firms. Empirical evidence favors the latter hypothesis. Specifically, using a sample of regional IPOs, we find that issuers underwritten by their respective regional government-affiliated investment banks exhibit lower earnings quality and poorer long-term performance compared with those underwritten by unaffiliated investment banks. However, this difference is attenuated after the abolition of the IPO quota system. Examination of underwriting fees and issuers’ shareholder identity provides additional evidence supporting the latter hypothesis.