This paper explores the way that increasing engagement in international standardisation processes has enabled Chinese firms to become global players in mobile telecommunications technologies and China to become a major influence in the international information and communications technology (ICT) standards arena. From a ‘social shaping of technology’ perspective it examines the development of the third generation (3G) TD-SCDMA (time division synchronous code division multiple access) mobile telephony standard (TD) and the path laid towards the next generation of mobile broadband standards and technologies. The paper highlights the complex interactions between a wide array of players involved, including national and foreign firms, and different sections and levels of the Chinese state. TD's success was by no means predetermined. China eventually adopted a pragmatic approach implementing TD and the two established Western standards. This complex history and interplay between Chinese and foreign players calls into question the idea of national or indigenous technologies for large-scale infrastructures, and highlights the limitations of national strategies in globalised innovation processes.