Mangrove ecosystems play an important role in global carbon budget, however, the quantitative relationships between environmental drivers and productivity in these forests remain poorly understood. This study presented a remote sensing (RS)-based productivity model to estimate the light use efficiency (LUE) and gross primary production (GPP) of mangrove forests in China. Firstly, LUE model considered the effects of tidal inundation and therefore involved sea surface temperature (SST) and salinity as environmental scalars. Secondly, the downscaling effect of photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) on the mangrove LUE was quantified according to different PAR values. Thirdly, the maximum LUE varied with temperature and was therefore determined based on the response of daytime net ecosystem exchange and PAR at different temperatures. Lastly, GPP was estimated by combining the LUE model with the fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation from Sentinel-2 images. The results showed that the LUE model developed for mangrove forests has higher overall accuracy (RMSE = 0.0051, R2 = 0.64) than the terrestrial model (RMSE = 0.0220, R2 = 0.24). The main environmental stressor for the photosynthesis of mangrove forests in China was PAR. The estimated GPP was, in general, in agreement with the in-situ measurement from the two carbon flux towers. Compared to the MODIS GPP product, the derived GPP had higher accuracy, with RMSE improving from 39.09 to 19.05 g C/m2/8 days in 2012, and from 33.76 to 19.51 g C/m2/8 days in 2015. The spatiotemporal distributions of the mangrove GPP revealed that GPP was most strongly controlled by environmental conditions, especially temperature and PAR, as well as the distribution of mangroves. These results demonstrate the potential of the RS-based productivity model for scaling up GPP in mangrove forests, a key to explore the carbon cycle of mangrove ecosystems at national and global scales.