Large-scale and persistent heat waves affecting central-eastern China are investigated in 40 different simulations of sea surface temperature driven global atmospheric models. The different models are compared with results from reanalysis and ground station datasets. It is found that the dynamics of heat-wave events is well reproduced by the models. However, they tend to produce too-persistent heat-wave events (lasting more than 20 days), and several hypotheses were tested to explain this bias. The daily variability of the temperatures or the seasonal signal did not explain the persistence. However, interannual variability of the temperatures in the models, and especially the sharp transition in the mid-1990s, has a large impact on the duration of heat waves. A filtering method was applied to select the models closest to the observations in terms of events persistence. The selected models do not show a significant difference from the other models for the long-term trends. Thus, the bias on the duration of the events does not impact the reliability of the model positive trends, which is mainly controlled by the changes in mean temperatures.