Gives an eye‐witness account of how training and management development policies are put into practice in Chinese state‐owned enterprises. Makes observations on how training is perceived and implemented in a period of rapid economic change. Also discusses the contribution that western countries could make and the obstacles that could be met, as a result. Draws evidence for these observations from the author’s involvement in a major United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the design and teaching of management strategy and human resource management courses to cohorts of managers from selected Chinese foreign trade corporations (FTCs). Asserts that, despite much effort being made to train and develop as many managers as possible, there is still an urgent need for appropriate management training programmes that could meet the quest for skilful and efficient managers who would be able to cope with the managerial demands of increasing economic reforms. Argues, therefore, that there is a gap between the abilities and the process of developing Chinese managers on the one hand and what is required from them for exploiting the economic reform on the other. The process of introducing and implementing training programmes in the People’s Republic of China is characterized by a clear emphasis on quantitative rather than qualitative knowledge and by a poor appreciation of training priorities, because of the way in which management is perceived and managers are controlled.