Cancer is a major public health issue in China, and effective anticancer drugs remain a huge unmet need. Generic drugs have long been the main products of pharmaceutical companies in China. In this decade, research on and development of innovative drugs has greatly advanced thanks to policy reforms and economic growth. Five innovative anticancer drugs - anlotinib, pyrotinib, fruquintinib, sintilimab, and toripalimab - that were developed by Chinese domestic pharmaceutical companies were approved by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) of China in 2018. Several novel anticancer drugs such as avitinib, flumatinib, zanubrutinib, and ensartinib may also receive approval for marketing in China in the near future. There are unprecedented opportunities for development of innovative drugs in China. In the future, innovative drug development in China is poised to shift from "me too" or "me better" drugs to "first-in-class" or "best-in-class" drugs.