There is growing interest in the role of sub-central actors in Chinese diplomatic evolution. This study explores Chinese diplomatic transformation from the perspective of so-called ‘multi-actors’. It begins with a discussion about the interaction of domestic and international politics, a context where Chinese diplomacy has transformed, and then identifies the roles of local governments, governmental agencies, NGOs and enterprises in China’s changing diplomatic system. The article suggests that these new groups of actors (referred to here as multi-actors) have become important factors to be reckoned with in the Chinese diplomatic system, although their roles are still limited compared with the central government. The article concludes that the establishment of a well-organized diplomatic system, which can be used to coordinate different actors and address transnational issues, will be an enduring challenge for the undergoing reform of the Chinese diplomatic system.