Over the past decades, the concepts of carrying capacity and Clementsian vegetation succession have come under attack from the theory of Non-Equilibrium Range Ecology. The new theory hypothesises that in arid regions with high rainfall variability the ecology is mainly determined by climatic and not biotic factors, such as animal grazing. The argument carried further implies that `rangeland degradation' or `desertification' are not caused by overgrazing but are part of a natural process of vegetation decline and growth in response to rainfall, which ruminant numbers merely follow. Few empirical studies involving time-series data have been executed to substantiate Non-Equilibrium Range Ecology. This article, hopes to make a contribution to the current debate with a statistical validation of one of its main postulates: the correlation between ruminant numbers and rainfall. The analysis is conducted with figures from the People's Republic of China: a state in which rangeland policy is an outstanding example of management on the basis of carrying capacities and Clementsian succession theory.