China’s contribution to global greening is regulated by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, climate change, and land use. Based on TRENDY project data, this study identified that the shifts in China’s contribution to the global leaf area index (LAI) trend strongly reduced during the warming hiatus, translating from 13.42 ± 26.45% during 1982–1998 into 7.91 ± 25.45% during 1999–2012. First, significant negative sensitivities of LAI to enhanced vapor pressure deficit (VPD), when only considering the climate effect derived from TRENDY models in China, were found to have shifted substantially after the late 1990s. However, globally, LAI had positive rather than negative responses to enhanced VPD. These opposing shifts in the response of LAI to enhanced VPD reduced the national contribution to global vegetation greening. Second, shifts in land-use change and their effects on the LAI trends in the two periods in China were accompanied by major changes in land cover and land management intensity, including forestry. Consequently, the contribution of land use in China reduced by −47.68% during the warming hiatus period, as compared with the warming period. Such a shift in the impact of land-use change on LAI simulated by ecosystem models might result from the models’ lack of consideration of conserving and expanding forests with the goal of mitigating climate change for China. Our results highlight the need for ecosystem models to reproduce the enhanced negative impact on global LAI and consider the shifts in man-made adaptation policies (e.g., forest management) to improve terrestrial ecosystem models in the future.