The role of civic engagement is particularly noteworthy in quasi-democratic regimes like Hong Kong because it can potentially confer some degree of legitimacy on politics and the policy process. This article examines older and more recent means of civic engagement in the policy process in Hong Kong. The concepts of civic engagement and public participation are addressed, leading into discussions of the established mechanisms for public participation, the pressure on the government's approach to civic engagement since 2003, and the politics of civic action on heritage preservation and urban planning. Hong Kong's experience indicates that in a quasi-democratic polity the main channels for public participation in the policy process are often dominated by pro-government business and professional elites, and more participatory mechanisms are only gradually introduced after civic action by civil society groups, as reflected in the recent politics over heritage and planning. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.