Up to now China's environmental reform has been mainly a state-led process. Yet, to enable further environmental improvements increased involvement of citizens and consumers is inevitable. This article explores existing, newly developing and future forms and channels of public participation in China's environmental management. Opportunities for public participation are analysed against the background of actual environmental parameters and in relation to China's specific political and socio-cultural dynamics. This contextual analysis of the (potential) roles for civil actors is framed around five environmental issues, which are central to the contemporary Chinese environmental debate: (1) protection of nature and bio-diversity; (2) local control of environmental pollution; (3) construction of green company images; (4) establishment of sustainable household practices; and (5) participation in international conventions and treaties.