This paper examines changes in Chinese high-tech SMEs’ access to both bank and informal finance in response to the institutional changes relating to the private sector and financial transactions. Using a theoretical framework based on institutional theory, the paper distinguishes between changes at different institutional levels and between formal and informal institutional arrangements as they relate to the availability of business finance during the institutional transition over a period from 1998 to 2009. The findings were based on a set of longitudinal datasets including two rounds of face to face interviews with the owners of high-tech SMEs and finance providers in the Chinese provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi. It shows that the responses of high-tech SMEs and informal investors to the institutional changes have been more positive compared with those of banks. Consequently, access to informal sources of finance has grown, including to longer term equity finance, whereas that to bank finance has not significantly improved. The paper contributes to institutional theory by providing that the effects of the overall institutional framework on the optimal selection of formal and informal institutional arrangements to secure funding differ between types of finance provider and are not necessarily positively associated with the phases of the institutional transitions.