It is a seabird of the tern family sternidae. It related closely to the sandwich tern T. sandvicensis and lesser-crested tern T. bengalensis. The Chinese crested tern can be recognized by the white rump and paler grey mantle and the black tip to the bill, which when in a close up has a white point on it. The large crested tern is also similar with the only difference in the stouter.
This endangered species although thought extinct, but rediscovered with the mere four pairs in 2000, in the Matsu islands just off the coast of Fujian province. The habitat was along the Chinese east coast north to Shandong province in the past. Due to hunting egg collection for foods there has been decline in the habitat.