This article addresses the nature of ownership of a unique sort of enterprise in China—the minying （民營） high-tech enterprises, which emerged in the mid-1980s and are increasingly contributing to China’s economic growth. The first section reviews the background of this type of enterprise while the second investigates three typical cases, comparing them with formal private enterprises. The main argument is that minying high-tech enterprises—which are often considered “public” in academic papers—have never been part of the “classical socialist sector” in János Kornai’s sense and instead share most of the features of the capitalist private sector. Although not necessarily purely privately owned, these enterprises are not publicly owned. Thus, the recent transformation of minying high-tech enterprises into joint-stock companies does not necessarily suggest privatization but rather represents a struggle by business operators to make more legally secure their rights over enterprise property. Hence the growth of minying high-tech enterprises attests to the strength of private rather than public ownership. Most minying high-tech enterprises are not, however likely to simply transform themselves into purely private enterprises in the near future.