This study investigated the association of timed visual processing tasks varying in levels of phonological processing with word reading. We tested 293 Chinese children on Cross Out, Visual Matching, rapid automatized naming (RAN), and Chinese character recognition across three to five years. Children's character recognition at ages 6 and 7 predicted Cross Out at ages 7 and 8. There was a cross-lagged relationship between character recognition and Visual Matching from ages 6 to 7. However, only character recognition at age 7 predicted Visual Matching at age 8. While RAN and character recognition predicted each other from ages 5 to 6. But only RAN predicted subsequent character recognition from age 6 to age 9. Results suggest that learning to read Chinese promotes visual processing when a phonological component is not required in such processing, but conversion from visual codes to phonological codes predicts reading in Chinese. Copyright © 2019 Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.