According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, by 2010 the number of people aged 60 or over had reached 178 million in China or 13 % of its population. With the largest elderly population in the world in absolute numbers, China faces a challenge of providing care for the elderly both in the present and the future. Unlike old age pensions and health protection for the elderly, in Chinese society elderly care had never been considered to be a social problem but rather the individual familyʼs responsibility. After the turn of the millennium, as the repercussions of increasingly ageing demographics, the results of the One-Child Policy and drastic changes in traditional family structures gradually became more apparent, this issue of elderly care has increasingly become one of the most pressing concerns for the ageing society. As there is little existing research on this particular topic, this article aims to shed light on elderly care in China, focusing on the care of elderly needing assistance with activities of daily living, since this group of elderly are most in need of care, their numbers having risen to 33 million in 2010. This article argues it is urgent for China to switch from informal family-based elderly care to the stateʼs formal long-term care, illustrates that a model of social insurance (e.g. as in Germany) is advocated by many Chinese scholars and points out the ways in which it is different from both the commercialized models (e.g. as in the USA) and state organized “Beveridge” models (e.g. as in Sweden).