In this third wave of global democratization, no phenomenon has more vividly captured the imagination of social scientists and political activists than "civil society." It is now clear that to comprehend democratic changes in the "East," "West/North," and "South," one must study civil society. And China offers us an unequaled ground for testing, revising, and amplifying the idea of civil society. This research project starts from examining the applicability of the concept to Chinese social organizations, then proceeds to investigate the democratic functions of them, and finally explores the role of the outside world in forming and developing Chinese civil society. This study will examine the relevance of the idea of civil society to societies culturally, historically, and institutionally far removed from its origins, thereby aiming to contribute to comparative research on civil society.