The operation of international non-government organisations (INGOs) in China has become a salient part of the country’s globalisation. This article deploys the prism of “world civic politics”, a major theoretical development in studying transnational civil society, to examine INGOs’ activism in Chinese societal realms. INGOs do not work solely to change state behaviour. Other politically meaningful actions include shifting the public mood, reforming corporate behaviour, and empowering local NGOs and communities. The theory suggests useful lenses to study societal aspects of transnational activism in China and impart political meaning, while also highlighting Western-centrism that is common in the theorisation of transnational politics.