•Large-scale industrial pork production enterprises are preferred in China in the future.
•Challenges to green pork production include emissions, feed shortage and residues.
•Potential solutions to green production include precise feeding and manure recycling.
This paper reviews the changes in pork production in China, the largest pork producing and consuming nation in the world. The pork sector in China has changed dramatically since the 1990s, with large-scale intensive pork production systems replacing the former, exclusively family-based pork production systems. Modern breeding, feeding, vaccinating, and management technologies are widely used now. However, smallholders still account for a large proportion of the total production. The intensification and specialization of the pork sector is expected to continue in the future, but there is increasing awareness and pressure to develop more environmentally-sustainable production systems. The relative shortage of domestically produced feed, the low utilization efficiency of feed ingredients, the large emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus to the environment, the high use of antibiotics, and the presence of residual metals in manures are very large challenges for the pork sector nowadays. To solve these problems, techniques including new feed resource utilization, precise feeding, low-protein diets, alternatives to antibiotics and increased manure recycling are all important topics and research directions today. With new techniques and management approaches, it is possible to build more sustainable pork production systems in China.