Primate species have been increasingly threatened by legal and illegal trade in China, mainly for biomedical research or as pets and traditional medicine, yet most reports on trade from China regard international trade. To assess a proxy for amount of national primate trades, we quantified the number of reports of native primate species featuring in unique web news reports from 2000 to 2017, including accuracy of their identification, location where they were confiscated or rescued, and their condition upon rescue. To measure temporal trends across these categories, the time span was divided into three sections: 2000-2005, 2006-2011 and 2012-2017. A total of 735 individuals of 14 species were reported in 372 news reports, mostly rhesus macaques (n=165, 22.5%, Macaca mulatta) and two species of slow lorises (n=487, 66.3%, Nycticebus spp.). During the same period, live individuals of rhesus macaques were recorded 206 times (70,949 individuals) in the CITES Trade Database, whereas slow lorises were only recorded four times (9 individuals), indicating that the species originated illegally from China or were illegally imported into China. Due to their rescued locations in residential areas (n=211, 56.7%), most primates appeared to be housed privately as pets. A higher proportion of ‘market’ rescues during 2006-2011 (χ2=8.485, df=2, p=0.014), could be partly attributed to an intensive management on wildlife markets since the outbreak of SARS in 2003. More than half (68.3%, 502 individuals) of the primate individuals were unhealthy, injured or dead when rescued. Thus, identification and welfare training and capacity-building should be provided to husbandry and veterinary professionals, as well as education to the public through awareness initiatives. The increase in presence of some species, especially slow lorises, with a declining population in restricted areas, also suggests the urgent need for public awareness about the illegal nature of keeping these taxa as pets.