Nice NYT story on growth of (primarily) middle class resistance to unlimited growth ambitions WRT environmental damage. Most experts who track the grass-root democracy arising in China have noted its strong concentration in the environmental realm.
It's a natural development that we've seen everywhere else a middle class historically arises: once you get to a certain level of GDP ($4-7,000) you start caring about the environment a whole lot more.
Chart shows all the places where projects have been delayed/cancelled in response to popular demands.
Point being: all part of the natural slowdown in growth that comes with modernization. Things get more complex. The public puts up with less crap. China is not different in this regard whatsoever.
As I've noted for years now, Asian countries that modernize and open up to globalization typically do so as single-party states (either explicit or de facto) for about 5 decades. Then things change.
That logic says China goes democratic in the 2020s - or faster.