Ever since the 1989 mass uprising on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, social scientists have predicted the impending death of China’s one-party regime. Whereas the student demonstrations of the late 1980s and the contemporaneous institution of villagers’ self-governance nurtured hopes for a bottom-up democratization, violent peasant protests in the mid- and late 1990s and the rising urban–rural wealth gap gave rise to concerns (or hopes?) that the regime might simply implode. Neither happened, however, and gradually, and often grudgingly, Western social scientists have conceded that statements of a ‘coming collapse of China’ (Chang 2001) might have been premature.