China have had a tricky run-up to the 2008 FIVB World League as they have not played as many competitive matches as most of the others.
The Chinese were not involved in the 2007 World Cup or any World Olympic Qualification Tournaments.
The last global competition they have taken part in is the 2007 World League. They finished in ninth place, winning four and losing eight. There was an impressive showing by team captain Shen Qiong, who finished in the top 10 best scorers of the intercontinental phase together with Yingchao Fang.
In order to prepare for the Beijing Games, China made some adjustments to the playing staff in March 2008, although the team officials stayed the same as 2007: Coach Jianan Zhou, the Chinese team captain in 1990s, Assistant Coach Xie Guochen, Trainer Fu Jun and Team Manager Zhang Luo.
After analyzing the team's performance in last year's FIVB and Asian Volleyball Confederation competitions, Zhou has been confident he has pinpointed the problems of the team's tactics and technique and the skills of the players that should be improved.
China's record on the Olympic stage is a lone eighth-placed finish at the Los Angeles Games in 1984 and they have been overshadowed to a fair extent over the years by their supremely successful female compatriots.
Away from the Summer Games, it has been a mixed bag of results for the Chinese in recent years. In the FIVB World Championship, they were the model of consistency from 1994 to 2002, finishing 13th three times running before dropping to a 17th-placed finish in 2006.
In the FIVB World Cup, they twice finished fifth in 1977 and 1981 and after an 18-year gap came back to place 11th in 1999 and then 10th in 2003.
China have fared better in the Asian Games. They won the competition in 1990, placed second in '94, won in '98, finished third in 2002 and second in '06.
In the Asian Championship, they placed third in '91, fourth in '93 and second in '95, before winning the title in '97 and retaining it in '99. They then finished third in 2001, second in '03, second in '05 and fourth in '07.
Jianan Zhou, 43, was setter of the Chinese Men's Volleyball team from 1987 to 1999 and took part in many world major competitions. He appeared in three World Cups and three World Championships and played for several years in the World League. As captain, he led the Chinese team to victory in the Asian Championship in 1997 and 1999 and the 1998 Asian Games.
After retiring from the Chinese Men's Volleyball team in 1999, he worked as Head Coach of the Sichuan Men’s Club team for several years. After Zhou's appointment, Sichuan finished in first place in the Chinese National League many times.
In 2006, the Chinese National Men's Team was revamped and Zhou was appointed as Head Coach. Ahead of the Olympics in Beijing, Zhou plans to select a group of young players for the team, provide them with as much opportunity as possible to grow up rapidly and perform well during the 2008 Games.