Purpose: This is a special issue of Chinese Management Studies and this study aims to engage with debates on innovation in China and to provide new insights for innovation research in the context of China, seeking to develop a greater understanding of the concept of “innovation with Chinese characteristics”. Design/methodology/approach: This study reviews the Chinese innovation management literature in general and the selected papers in this special issue in particular and proposes two new directions for future research. Findings: The nine papers that constitute this special issue present research on important aspects of innovation in China, ranging from the effectiveness of government subsidisation for innovation, the impact of fiscal decentralisation on innovation, the role of management behaviour in promoting (or discouraging) innovation and the effects of differing business models on innovation. These papers shed valuable new light on the theory and practice of innovation in China. The papers are discussed in the context of four primary arguments about innovation management in China identified from the broader literature in the field. These relate to the pattern of China’s innovation performance over time, the reasons for its effectiveness, the role of alliances and influences of indigenous factors. It is also shown that management of the internationalisation of innovation and of efficient internal innovation are two important directions for future research on Chinese innovation in an era of de-globalisation. Originality/value: The studies presented here provide valuable contributions to theory building in innovation research, as well as some important ideas for directions of future research on innovation in China in the new era of de-globalisation.