Inner city redevelopment studies in China have been mainly focused on the revenue seeking attitude of local governments and private/public developers, as a result of the local finance decentralisation process. Similarly, great attention has been paid to the social costs of such a model, namely the loss of important parts of historic city centres such as the forceful relocation of local inhabitants. However, the increasing number of local protests, in recent years, is assuming the form of a relatively more coordinated opposition to urban transformations, from different sectors of local civil
society as in the case of the regeneration of the historic district of Taohuawu, in Suzhou. The aim of this paper is to trace the process of raising local awareness in Suzhou of a “third actor”, through the analysis of its contrasting voices against pure speculative urban transformations, showing the potential and the limitations of such trend for a wider application in China.