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This book regards the emergence of "guannian sheying" (conceptual photography) in China as a result from two factors: contact with external sources of influence and internal impulses. First, I demonstrate that between two possible translations for the term "conceptual" as in "Conceptual Art" introduced from the West, the choosing of the word guannian reflects a local psychology in the historical context: the pursuit of an autonomous voice. Second, I illustrate certain patterns and forces in the history of contemporary photography in China and elaborate two aspects which most directly triggered the birth of conceptual photography: photographers' dissatisfaction with documentary approach and the position of photography in documenting performance art in the 90s. My main argument is that rather than attributing its characteristics and significance mainly to the Western influence and isolated events, we ought to see "guannian sheying" as a phenomenon intrinsically rooted in the historical progression of Chinese photography.