In the past twenty years, numerous novel zoonotic viral agents with pandemic potential have emerged in China, such as, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and, more recently, the avian-origin influenza A/H7N9 virus, which have caused outbreaks among humans with high morbidity and mortality. In addition, several emerging and re-emerging viral pathogens have also been imported into China from returning travelers, e.g. the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus and Zika virus (ZIKV). Herein, we review these emerging viral pathogens in China and focus on how surveillance by pathogen genomics has been employed to discover and annotate novel pathogenic agents, identify natural reservoirs, monitor the transmission events and delineate their evolution and adaption to the human host. We also highlight the application of genomic sequencing in the recent Ebola epidemics in Western Africa. In summary, genomic sequencing has become a standard research tool in the field of emerging infectious diseases which has been proven invaluable in containing these viral infections and reducing burden of disease in humans and animals. Genomic surveillance of pathogenic agents will serve as a key epidemiological and research tool in the modern era of precision infectious diseases and in the future studies of virosphere.