China's AFL link was established when the Melbourne Demons introduced its China Strategy designed to increase links with the Chinese community in Melbourne and promote interest in the game abroad.
The strategy gave two Chinese players, Zhao Wei and Zhao Yong Gen, the opportunity to train in Australia with the Melbourne Football Club on a two-week pre-season development scholarship.
Footy caught on rapidly in schools and universities, and the Chinese national team, the China Red Demons competed in their first International Cup in 2008.
In October 2010, the partnership with the Melbourne Demonds continued when an exhibition match between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions played out at the Jiangwan Sports Centre in Shanghai.
In 2011, through a collaboration between the AFL, the City of Melbourne and Melbourne Football Club, the city of Tianjin launched the country's first purpose-built Australian football ground.
After finishing fifteenth in the 2008 International Cup, the China Red Demons went into IC11 looking to improve as one of the more developing nations learning the game of Australian football.
They were winless in 2008 but turned that around in 2011 with two hard-fought victories against India and Timor-Leste.
The Demons finished fifth in the second division ahead of Timor-Leste.