Over the past decade, China has become the main export destination for Mozambican timber. This market reconfiguration has come with growing criticism of ethnic Chinese actors from Mainland China and elsewhere, who have been accused of being the origin of ecologically deleterious illegal logging and trade. In this context, the aim of this article is to examine the timber concession and licensing schemes in Mozambique, the main instruments governing logging operations, and to investigate behavioural differences between Chinese and non-Chinese commercial actors with regard to these instruments. Using available qualitative and quantitative data for Cabo Delgado province, the analysis reveals indications for differences in the extent to which Chinese and non-Chinese timber operators manage to operate within the legal sphere despite incomplete compliance with formal requirements. The observation suggests that Chinese actors could adapt positively to an environment in which laws were more effectively enforced.