The national team was founded in 1924 in the Republic of China under the auspices of the China Football Association and joined FIFA in 1931. Following the Chinese Civil War, the CFA was formed in the newly founded People's Republic of China. They remained affiliated with FIFA until 1958, when they withdrew, but they rejoined in 1979

China have won the East Asian Cup twice in 2005 and 2010 and been runners up twice. Although China failed to score a goal in their maiden FIFA World Cup appearance in 2002, losing all their matches, just qualifying for the tournament has been considered the greatest accomplishment in their football history