In the debate on whether China’s political system can survive economic modernisation, a crucial but often-neglected aspect is whether the Chinese state can successfully rebuild social order disrupted by China’s rapid urbanisation. This article explores how the Chinese state has tried to re-establish social order in China’s cities by launching Confucian education programmes. It has three major findings. First, the state has adopted a decentralised mode, that is, local education authorities are the main agents in introducing Confucian education in public schools. Second, these Confucian education programmes are more systematically and innovatively operated by county/district-level authorities rather than by prefectural or school-level authorities. Third, these programmes are more positively received by rural immigrants than by urban middle-class families. Based on these findings, this article indicates that the Chinese state may be the strongest in responding to social disorder at the county/district level, and is more effective in shaping the attitudes and values of the economically deprived rather than the privileged.