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Following decades of geological surveys and studies, 14 active volcanic fields have been identified in China. Evidence for Holocene volcanism in several of these areas highlights the need to understand and monitor volcanic hazards in those regions. Six volcano observatories have thus been established in the past 40 years. This work reviews China's national capability and history of volcano monitoring, with emphasis on the Changbaishan–Tianchi Volcano Observatory and the Tengchong Volcano Observatory. The Changbaishan–Tianchi Volcano Observatory (CTVO) was constructed in 1996 and began monitoring in 1999, with limited recorded observations dating back to 1973. Currently, CTVO is the largest and most advanced observatories in China. The monitoring network of the CTVO incorporates 11 seismic and 15 GPS stations, two levelling routes and three gas geochemistry sampling points. The Changbaishan–Tianchi Volcano experienced unrest during 2002–05, evidenced in elevated levels of seismicity and ground deformation, as well as shifts in gas geochemistry. After 2006, the volcano returned to quiescence, with activities at background levels as recorded in 1973–2001. The monitoring network of Tengchong Volcano Observatory incorporates eight seismic stations, 20 GPS points, 95 levelling points and three gas geochemistry sampling points. The observations made since 1965 indicate significant seismicity, with more than 3000 events recorded in 2011, mostly related to regional tectonics. Tengchong is known for its widespread hot springs, with temperatures up to 105°C recorded at Dagunguo spring. The four other observatories are Longgang Volcano Observatory, Jingbohu Volcano Observatory, Wudalianchi Volcano Observatory and Qiongbei Volcano Observatory. They are equipped with seismic, geodetic and geochemical monitoring equipment. These areas saw only low levels of activity over the past several decades, but related fault systems are relatively active. In a relatively short time, China has gained considerable experience in observatory design and volcano monitoring and has trained up a sizeable task force, laying the foundation for sustained volcano monitoring at the national level. Future efforts must focus on maintaining and expanding observational capacity, as well as gaining better dynamic understanding to inform volcano hazard assessment.

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