This Special Report containing three essays explores social discontent and crisis in China’s rural areas. Jean C. Oi of Stanford University observes that most peasant protests have been directed largely at corrupt village cadres, not the regime itself, thanks to the central government’s efforts at reducing peasant burdens. Xiaobo Lü of Columbia University predicts that continuing rural discontent, particularly in grain-producing central China, may pose a genuine threat to the regime and initiate substantial democratization in China.Yawei Liu of the Carter Center argues that the rural crisis will not disappear until free elections are regularly held at the village and township levels. This Special Report highlights China’s potential rural crisis and points to democratization as the best means of forestalling serious upheaval.