In the late fall of 1995 I was travelling down a bumpy road in the remote mountains of China’s Gansu province, talking to my Chinese counterpart on a World Bank poverty relief project. I had raised the issue of finding mechanisms that might deliver certain benefits (like microfinance) to project participants and of identifying or creating institutions that could monitor the provincial government’s success in carrying out the project. My counterpart immediately suggested that NGOs could fill these roles. I was astonished – this was a complete change from the utter reliance on state-controlled mechanisms that I had always seen in earlier work on the project.