In the wake of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and with China's new “Open Door” policy towards Western culture and Western new music, we have witnessed the exuberant growth of a new generation of Chinese composers. Tan Dun, Chen Yi and Bright Sheng have expressed in various ways their indebtedness to the heritage of Béla Bartók's music. Chen Yi, a fellow student of Tan Dun during her time at Central Conservatory of Music and Columbia University, recalled studying all of Bartók's six string quartets in the composition classes. Bright Sheng also openly admits that his use of the “primitiveness and savageness” of folk elements is directly modelled on the music of Bartók. The dissemination of Bartók's music in China is signified by the extent to which the journals published by China's top two music conservatories — the Central Conservatory of Music and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music — focus on discussion of this repertoire. Frank Kouwenhoven's studies of contemporary Chinese composers also point out that Bartók's influence overshadows most other major composers from the West. In this paper the reception of Bartók's music by Chinese composers in the post-Cultural Revolution era will be explored with reference to the musical as well as socio-cultural factors that fostered the influence.