• China;
  • civic engagement;
  • participatory budgeting;
  • administrative reform;
  • political reform;
  • citizen empowerment


This article seeks to develop an understanding of participatory budgeting (PB) in China by examining its three distinctive logics—administrative, political reform and citizen empowerment—and how they operate and intertwine. The background to recent PB is outlined, followed by an overview of the three logics, the mapping of PB developments and activities across China, a discussion of various patterns and related characteristics of PB, an evaluation of PB against a number of criteria within the three logics and a consideration of the prospects for PB. The analysis draws on several sources, including newspaper and journal articles, personal involvement in five PB experiments over the last 6 years, and numerous field trips and interviews with national and local officials. The overall conclusion is that, while the administrative logic will remain dominant in PB experiments, the empowering of local People's Congresses will continue to be constrained by the caution of the central leaders and resistance from local governments. Likewise, the empowering of citizens through PB will be limited by government control. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.