In response to growing rural–urban inequality, China is undertaking a series of policy initiatives to promote rural development. In addition to redistributive policy aiming at social protection, asset-based policy, which integrates social protection and social investment, are a viable option for progressive rural development. In 1998, the Hutubi local government in Xinjiang, China, implemented an innovative retirement programme that allows account holders to use accounts as legal collateral to borrow small loans and invest in productive assets, education, and small businesses. Using the data gathered by the programme organizers and in-depth interviews with programme participants, this case study closely examines the Hutubi programme. We examine the programme’s key features, which have effectively encouraged asset building in a rural community, and identify the programme’s strengths and weaknesses. The success of the Hutubi programme has implications for asset-based policy development in rural China.