This article offers a novel understanding of China’s changing engagement in global climate governance over the past decade. This article argues that China has embedded the construction of its international identity, which has been transforming towards what this article conceptualizes to be a ‘Yinling leading power’, in promoting and leading global climate governance. China’s transforming identity construction has contributed to changing its construction of climate justice and led China to proactively undertake more responsibilities, provide international public goods and promote international climate cooperation. Global climate governance has become one of China’s prototypical discursive frames in constructing its new international identity, an important platform where China seeks to share leadership with other major powers and the climate leadership in turn constitutes China’s new identity. However, China’s inadequate response to international expectations and lack of self-reflection in its climate policy have influenced international recognition on its climate leadership and new identity. In general, China’s transforming identity construction and its reconstruction of climate justice have far-reaching implications for China and Europe to cooperate and coordinate in strengthening global climate justice and promoting global climate governance.