This longitudinal study investigated the contributions of Chinese secondary school students’ meaning in life in Grade 10 to vocational identity in Grade 12 in different Chinese settings. Whether vocational exploration and commitment reported by students (VECS) in Grade 11, and the vocational exploration and commitment reported by parents (VECP) of the students mediate the above link was examined as well. Participants comprised 435 students and their parents/guardians from Hong Kong, 422 students and their parents/guardians from urban Shanghai, and 308 students and their parents/guardians from rural Zhejiang. Partial mediation of the VECS in the relationship between meaning in life and vocational identity was significant in the Shanghai and Zhejiang rural samples. In the Hong Kong sample, the VECP was significantly predicted by meaning in life and could predict vocational identity. Associations between parental perceptions of vocational commitment and adolescents’ own career development might therefore be weaker than previously believed. The pattern of the relationships between meaning in life, vocational commitment and identity, and the influence of parents on adolescents’ career development in different Chinese local contexts are discussed herein.