This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book argues that while the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP's) sharp power approach has captured the global imagination, the united front approach itself is actually not a new phenomenon. It shows that political change in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong has followed different trajectories, the refusal of the CCP to allow democratisation processes to unfold, either in mainland China or at its periphery, has major implications for all three territories. The book examines state–society relations by offering a thick description of 12 closely viewed critical incidents, where political activists in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have come into direct conflict with representatives of their respective state. It outlines the novel heuristic devices of theories of and for political change.