During the past two decades since 1997, eastern China has experienced a warming hiatus punctuated by significant cooling in daily-minimum temperature (Tmin), particularly during early–mid winter. By arbitrarily configuring start and end years, a 'vantage hiatus period' in eastern China is detected over 1998–2013, during when the domain-averaged Tmin exhibited the strongest cooling trend and the number of significant cooling stations peaked. Regions most susceptible to the warming hiatus are located in North China, the Yangtze–Huai River Valley and South China, where significant cooling in Tmin persisted through 2016. This sustained hiatus gave rise to increasingly frequent and severe cold extremes there. Concerning its prolonged persistency and great cooling rate, the recent warming hiatus over eastern China deviates much from most historical short-term trends during the past five decades, and thus could be viewed as an outlier against the prevalent warming context.