The preceding chapters have revealed a multifaceted and complex picture of state and society in China’s shequ, and it has become clear that shequ reconstruction has been characterized by several apparent paradoxes. For example, shequ reconstruction was aimed at improving social service provision, while at the same time disburdening the state; organizational autonomy was promised, but the leadership position of the Party remained supreme; although they were to remain supreme, local Party organizations showed signs of decay; community-building was stressed, but Residents’ Committees (RCs) were treated as extensions of the state apparatus; the abstract goal of building a ‘harmonious society’ was formulated to solve some very concrete problems. At the heart of the shequ project lay the stimulation of participation, of turning the urban population into ‘citizens with Chinese characteristics’, a citizenry that, unlike in other authoritarian regimes, does not wallow in political apathy, but actively and enthusiastically embraces and supports Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule. Important exceptions notwithstanding, we found such enthusiasm to be generally lacking. Why is this the case? Is it because Chinese urbanites are not yet ready for democratic participation? Do they lack the altruism and knowledge required to engage in self-governance? Do they see through the attempts of Party ideologues to enlist them in disburdening the state and, as a consequence, refuse to be exploited? Or would they indeed be willing to aid the Party-state in improving social stability in China, but they are disillusioned by the participatory promises which they have unmasked as empty, as they in fact are? While the previous chapters have examined shequ governance from a top-down perspective, we will now take a close look at what the urbanites in our field sites think about participation, and how they evaluated the participatory offers made to them. We will first look at where, how, and to what extent participation actually takes place. Then, we will move on to probe how local cadres and the urban population evaluate the main institutions and organizations introduced so far: elections and RCs. The latter are contrasted with the homeowners’ committees, which were identified as posing a challenge to established shequ structures. As will be seen, this challenge is very real.