Biodiversity science in China has seen rapid growth over recent decades, ranging from baseline biodiversity studies to understanding the processes behind evolution across dynamic regions such as the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. We review research, including species catalogues, biodiversity monitoring, the origins, distributions, maintenance, and threats to biodiversity, biodiversity-related ecosystem function and services, and species and ecosystems’ responses to global change. Next, we identify priority topics, offer suggestions and priorities for future biodiversity research in China. These priorities include 1) the ecology and biogeography of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountains, and that of subtropical and tropical forests across China; 2) marine and inland aquatic biodiversity, and 3) effective conservation and management to identify and maintain synergies between biodiversity and socio-economic development to fulfil China’s vision for becoming an ecological civilization. In addition, we propose three future strategies: 1) translate advanced biodiversity science into practice for biodiversity conservation; 2) strengthen capacity building and application of advanced technology, including high-throughput sequencing, genomics, and remote sensing; 3) strengthen and expand international collaborations. Based on the recent rapid progress of biodiversity research, China is well-positioned to become a global leader in biodiversity research in the near future.