Through a unique combination of factors-including a huge population, rapid social development, and concentration of resources in its mega-cities-China is witnessing phenomenal developments in the field of thoracic surgery. Ultra-high-volume centers are emerging that provide fantastic new opportunities for surgical training and clinical research to surgeons in China and partners from other countries. However, there are also particular shortcomings that are limiting clinical and academic developments. To realize the potential and reap the rewards, the challenges posed by these limitations must be overcome. Thoracic surgeons from Europe may be particularly well-placed to achieve this through multi-dimensional exchanges with their Chinese counterparts.