Pig production and pork consumption are very important to the People's Republic of China for both economic and cultural reasons. The incursion and spread of a disease such as African swine fever (ASF), which emerged in Eastern Europe in 2007, could have devastating socioeconomic consequences for both the Chinese and the global pig industry. The Chinese government consequently attributes a very high priority to ASF and is actively seeking to improve its preparedness. This paper discusses different drivers and pathways of potential emergence of ASF in China in light of the country's specificities, including international movements of people, pigs and pig products, swill feeding practices and wild boar populations. It suggests that effective ASF risk management in China will require a comprehensive and integrated approach linking science and policy and will need to involve all relevant stakeholders to develop realistic policies.