With the unique dataset from the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the People’s Republic of China, this study aims to provide a patent citation-based analysis of technological innovation in China. This study provides an overall description of Chinese invention patent citations, including citations added by both inventors and examiners. Specifically, our work analyses the inventor citations and examiner citations of both international- and domestic-granted patents in SIPO from four different aspects: citations per patent, foreign citation dependence, highly cited patents and current impact index. Our research results indicate the following: (a) the quantity of citations per patent added by foreign applicants was much larger than that of the Chinese applicants in SIPO, and both decreased year after year. (b) Chinese applicants cited many technological references from seven major foreign countries and drew greatly from external technology and science, but Chinese applicants tended to refer more to domestic technology. (c) The overall impact of Chinese patents became stronger, but invention patents in some developed regions had only relatively weak technological impact. (d) The number of high-quality invention patents surged in every province, but high-quality patents remain mainly distributed in four developed areas. Finally, we propose several suggestions from a policy perspective.