We present a 3-D model of NE China by joint inversion of body and surface waves. The joint inversion significantly improves the resolution at shallow depths compared with body wave tomography alone and provides seismic evidence for the origin of Quaternary volcanism in NE China. Our model reveals that the mantle upwelling beneath the Changbaishan volcano originates from the transition zone and extends up to ~60 km, and spreads at the base of the lithosphere with the upwelling head ~5 times wider than the raising tail in the lower upper mantle. However, low velocities beneath the Halaha and Abaga volcanoes in the Xingmeng belt are confined to depths shallower than 150 km, suggesting that magmatism in the Xingmeng belt is more likely caused by localized asthenospheric upwelling at shallow depths rather than from the common deep source. A small-scale sublithospheric mantle convection may control the spatial and temporal distribution of Quaternary magmatism in NE China; that is, the upwelling beneath the Changbaishan volcano triggers the downwelling beneath the southern Songliao basin, where the high velocity imaged extends to ~300 km. The downwelling may further induce localized upwelling in the surrounding areas, such as the Halaha and Abaga volcanoes. Thanks to the joint constraints from both surface and body waves, we can estimate the dimension of the convection cell. The convection cell is located between 42°N and 45°N, spreads around ~500 km in the W-E direction measured from the distance between centers of downwelling and upwelling, and extends to ~300 km vertically.