This article examines the role of international institutional actors in China's health policy process. Particular attention is paid to three major international institutional actors: the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Through process tracing and comparative case studies, the article looks at how international institutions contribute to policy change in China and seeks to explain different outcomes in the relationship between international institutions and China's health policies. It finds that despite the opaque and exclusive authoritarian structure in China, international institutions play a significant role in the country's domestic health governance. By investing their resources and capabilities selectively and strategically, international institutions can change the preferences of government policy makers, move latent public health issues to the government's agenda, and affect the timing of government action and the content of policy design. Furthermore, the study suggests that different outcomes in the relationship between China's health policies and global health governance can be explained through the seriousness of the externalities China faces.