Under the Paris Agreement, countries are encouraged to submit long-term low greenhouse gas emissions development strategies. Such strategies will merge emissions goals with socio-economic objectives and enable countries to increase their ambition over time, thus offering an opportunity to close the gap between the current emissions trajectory and the Agreement’s ‘well below 2°C’ target. China is in the process of preparing its own long-term strategy. We argue in this article that non-CO2 greenhouse gases (NCGGs) should be an essential component of China’s long-term low-emissions strategy. To incorporate NCGGs into China’s long-term low-emissions development strategy, key scientific and institutional challenges should be addressed, such as uncertainty about the accuracy of NCGG emissions inventories; uncertainty about future projections of NCGG emissions; and institutional coordination deficits and imbalanced policy approaches. Overcoming these barriers will have significant implications for climate change mitigation and can open a path for the development of concrete follow-up actions.