In this article, I assess the state of political citizenship in rural China. After discussing the often local and rural origins of citizenship and the meaning of the term itself, I review the limited reforms that have taken place in the election of high-ranking state leaders and people's congress deputies. I then turn to a more promising avenue of inclusion: the villagers' committee (VC) elections that began in the late 1980s. Here, we see notable efforts to heighten cadre responsiveness and draw rural residents into the local polity. At the same time, sizable obstacles to inclusion remain, not least because many electoral rules and practices do not enfranchise villagers reliably. The inescapable conclusion that villagers enjoy (at best) a partial citizenship needs to be qualified, however, owing to evidence that some rural people are starting to challenge improper elections using the language of rights. Building on a rules consciousness and a sensitivity to government rhetoric that have existed for centuries, as well as exploiting the spread of participatory ideologies and patterns of rule rooted in notions of equality, rights, and the rule of law, these villagers are busy advancing their interests within prevailing limits, forcing open blocked channels of participation, and struggling to make still-disputed rights real. In this regard, certain citizenship practices are emerging even before citizenship has appeared as a fully recognized status, and we may be observing the process by which a more complete citizenship comes about.