Tendencies to marketization and privatization in higher education, along with other factors, have challenged the idea of higher education as a public good in many countries over the years. China has experienced this situation to some extent. During the last 20 years, this has triggered various discussions on higher education and public good(s) in China. Drawing on qualitative data from 24 semi-structured interviews in both government departments and universities, this study defines and explores public and common good(s) in relation to higher education in China. As the first empirical study on this theme in the country, it is argued that this study makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge with international relevance. This paper identifies the complex nature of higher education in China and proposes that it may be better described in relation to common good(s). Also, as a common good, higher education in China contributes to the (global) common good and generates (global) common goods in many aspects.