In addition to providing a review of electricity generation developments in China, this paper features the development of a framework for understanding the socio-political economy influencing electricity market development. It documents and presents a critical evaluation of the social, technological, economic and political forces which influence electricity generation policy in China. The analysis provides insight into why China's electricity generation shopping basket is being filled with both coal and CO2-reduced electricity generation technologies. It concludes that installed capacity of hydro power, wind power, nuclear power and solar PV power will outpace government projections due to inter alia a proclivity on the part of the Chinese government to set conservative (and achievable) targets, waning apathy toward pollution associated with coal-fired power, progressive improvements in grid connection and resilience, increased economic viability of these alternative energy sources and government support for these industries as strategic commercial sectors. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.