This paper outlines how the concept of quality and quality assurance in education was understood and developed in China. The author begins by arguing that quality, which is regarded by many simply as public examination results, is a multi-faceted phenomenon. Despite this, one can still find consensus about it among different stakeholders. In China, the concept of quality assurance originated in higher education, referring generally to the activity of evaluating teaching programmes. When the concept was applied to primary and secondary schools, it resulted in the development of an inspectorate system. At present, the main function of inspectors is to ensure the implementation of government policy at different levels. The author anticipates that this will gradually shift to ensuring quality teaching in schools. Lastly the author has adopted an ‘input-process-output’ model and elaborates on how, in each process, quality issues are to be addressed.