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In this article, public policy is put into a multi-stakeholder rather than adversarial perspective: we argue that there is a role for multi-stakeholder involvement in both the development and implementation of public policy; these are separate processes that can involve different patterns of stakeholder involvement (stakeholders have different skills and levels of interest in public policy) in either one or both the development and implementation phases. We need new models, approaches and examples of such multi-stakeholder public policy, and in this Special Issue, we focus on China, where such research is only slowly emerging. We present and analyse six papers that fall naturally into three categories: (1) corporate social responsiveness and societal relationships; (2) public affairs (particularly reputation management) and citizen involvement; and (3) public-management-oriented, data-based analyses. These articles, taken together, increase our understanding of multi-stakeholder research and practice, but equally as important, they give us insights into how Chinese public policy academics research and report public policy. This window into academic research and thinking offers us an opportunity to expand and deepen our understanding of public policy and its implications for public affairs in China. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.