China's rise as a (re)emerging donor has attracted attention over the last decade, with a focus on Chinese development assistance as a challenge to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aid norms. Knowledge of China's domestic aid structure is needed to understand Chinese aid abroad. This paper addresses gaps in the literature and challenges the accepted nostrum that China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) dominates China's aid programme. Building on the authors' experience as Chinese aid practitioners and scholars over more than a decade and drawing on over 300 interviews, the paper explores China's aid decision-making processes by examining the main agencies, identities and informal interactions. We argue that the Chinese aid system is characterised by fierce and ongoing competition for influence among actors, especially MOFCOM, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF), as well as the companies responsible for implementing Chinese aid projects.