Recent works on collaboration during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) have contributed much to the field by focusing on the concrete functioning of institutions in occupied China. Yet, a more systematic definition of the process by which these institutions took shape is necessary in order to better understand how state making in occupied China relates to the longue durée of the Chinese state, on the one hand, and to Japan's imperial endeavor, on the other. This article aims to fill this gap by proposing a new definition of state making in occupied China and providing an overview that clarifies both the chronology of the occupation state and the roles of key actors within it. Ultimately, it makes the case for a reassessment of the occupation state as one of the competing political realms that contributed to shape the modern Chinese state.