The Chinese market is characterized by state-controlled and closely held firms as well as significant differences in economic development and legal structures at the provincial level and corporate regulations that require firms seeking external financing to show a history of dividend payment. Using a sample of listed Chinese firms, we investigate the firm’s choice of cash or stock dividends and market reactions to the announcement of these dividend choices. We find that profitable, low leverage, high cash holding, stronger shareholder protection firms, and those firms with state ownership prior to listing and undertaking subsequent equity offerings are more likely to pay dividends and cash dividends, in particular. In addition, we find that growing firms with high levels of retained earnings and investing more in fixed assets pay stock dividends. Firms appear to cater to investor demands in setting dividend policy; hence firms with a large proportion of non-tradable shares are more likely to pay cash dividends. Consistent with the use of stock dividends to attract the attention of analysts, we find that the announcement of a stock dividend initiation is associated with significant positive market reactions and increased analyst following.