The “puzzle” of why the Communist Party of China (CPC) remains in power has produced a number of competing and complementary explanations. Of these, legitimacy has gained much attention in recent years. While largely convincing, the Weberian-influenced approach, with its focus on economic growth and nationalism, is unable to explain a number of incongruities in contemporary China. Consequently, this has provoked a turn towards empirical methods. Again, though highly informative, these methods also suffer shortcomings, not least whether they are measuring legitimacy. Given this, this article proposes the concept of legitimation to complement these existing approaches for the purpose of enhancing our understanding of why the regime remains in power.