In 2005, the Chinese government deployed a new financial instrument to accelerate technological catch-up: government guidance funds (GGFs). These are funds established by central and local governments partnering with private venture capital to invest in state-selected priority sectors. GGFs promise to significantly broaden capital access for high-tech ventures that normally struggle to secure funding. The aggregate numbers are impressive: by 2021, there were more than 1,800 GGFs, with an estimated target capital size of US$1.52 trillion. In practice, however, there are notable gaps between policy ambition and outcomes. Our analysis finds that realized capital fell significantly short of targets, particularly in non-coastal regions, and only 26 per cent of GGFs had met their target capital size by 2021. Several factors account for this policy implementation gap: the lack of quality private-sector partners and ventures, leadership turnover and the inherent difficulties in evaluating the performance of GGFs.