The Plum Blossom Award was founded in 1983 by Liu Housheng, Vice President of the China Theatre Association, and his colleagues.
In 1994, the China Theatre Association began awarding Second Plum Blossom Prizes to distinguished performers who had already won the prize once. In 2002, the Association began the policy of awarding the Plum Blossom Grand Prize to performers who had won the prize twice previously and continued to be active and innovative in the field. There have been four winners of that award to date:
Shang Changrong in 2002,
Song Guofeng and Mao Weitao in 2007, and
Pei Yanling in 2009. The Plum Blossom Prize has been awarded every two years since 2005, as opposed to every year as it was previously. Due to the promulgation of the "Administration of Art, Journalism, and Publishing Awards" circular by the Ministry of Culture in 2005, the number of such awards was reduced, and the Plum Blossom Prize was combined with another prize. Beginning in 2009, the selection process for the Plum Blossom Prize was changed into a televised competition among fifty hopefuls.