China has put great efforts into air pollution control over the past years and recently committed to its most ambitious climate target. Cost and benefit analysis has been widely used to evaluate the control policies in terms of past performance, future reduction potential, and direct and indirect impacts. To understand the cost and benefit analysis for air pollution control in China, we conducted a bibliometric review of more than 100 studies published over the past two decades, including the current research progress, most commonly adopted methods, and core findings. The control target in cost and benefit analysis has shifted in three stages, from individual and primary pollution control, moving to joint prevention of multiple and secondary pollutants, and then towards synergistic control of air pollution and carbon. With the expansion of the research scope, the integrated assessment model has gradually demonstrated the necessity for long-term ex-anti policy simulation, especially for dealing with complex factors. To ensure long-term air quality, climate, public health, and sustainable economic development, substantial evidence from published studies has suggested that China needs to continue its efforts in the upstream adjustment of the energy system and industrial structure with multi-regional and -sector collaboration. This cost and benefit review paper provides decision-makers with the fundamental information and knowledge gaps in air pollution control strategies in China, and direction for facing future challenges.