Some of the many China stories to attract attention recently have involved NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) protests by largely middle class crowds gathering to demand a greater say in urban development plans. This article argues that such protests a) are a significant addition to the already complex landscape of Chinese collective action (and signal a shift in some quarters from worrying about obstacles to modernization to worrying about the social costs of such modernization); but b) should not be interpreted as suggesting China's imminent democratization (simply because restive middle classes have contributed to the end of authoritarian rule elsewhere).