Maintaining quality teachers in rural areas is a growing concern worldwide. To address this issue, teachers’ wellbeing should be fostered. In China, there are around 5.8 million teachers, 65 per cent in rural areas. Globally, including rural China, economic development and growth is paramount; however, rural teachers cannot thrive if there is a lack of understanding of specific societal and cultural conditions that contribute to their optimal levels of teacher’s wellbeing. This study deployed self-determination theory derived from positive psychology developed in the west, integrated with eastern Chinese cultures deeply influenced by Confucian philosophical doctrines, to seek the explanation of the mechanisms of the interplay of cultural factors and needs satisfaction that affect teachers’ wellbeing in rural China. Conducted in the rural area of Jilin Province, China, this presentation is based on a mixed-methods study which used an appreciative inquiry approach. A large sample size (n = 1300) of the quantitative stage of the study followed the semi-structured interviews which informed the research design. The study has implications for meaningful cross-cultural understandings of wellbeing for the largest population of rural school teaching workforce in the world.