By parameterizing the abyssal mixing as the exchange velocity (entrainment/detrainment) between the middle and deep layers of the South China Sea (SCS), its effects on the multi-layer circulation are examined. Results indicate that the cyclonic circulation in the deep SCS appears only when the mixing induces an entrainment of at least 0.72 Sv from the deep to the middle layer, which is equivalent to a diapycnal diffusivity of 0.65×10-3 m2s-1 or a net input rate of gravitational potential energy (GPE) of 6.89 GW, respectively. It is also found that tidal mixing in the SCS is much stronger than the energy threshold for the generation of the cyclonic abyssal circulation, but the pattern and evolution of the deep circulation and meridional overturning circulation also depend on the spatiotemporal variability of the mixing. Moreover, the abyssal mixing is able to intensify the anticyclonic circulation in the middle layer but weaken the cyclonic circulation in the upper layer. Vorticity analysis suggests that the upward net flux induced by the abyssal mixing leads to vortex stretching (squeezing) and modulates the pressure gradient by redistributing the layer thickness, hence affects the pattern and strength of the circulation in the middle (deep) layer of the SCS, respectively. The depth-integrated effect of the thickness variation across all layers can transmit the perturbation from the abyss to the pressure gradient in the upper layer, hence influence the upper-layer circulation.