The rise of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in China has spurred heated debates about their purpose and effectiveness. This article traces the fluctuation of China's PPPs over several decades and finds that PPPs have played a supplementary role in China's infrastructure investment, as a response to the pressures of fiscal shortfalls and government debts. The resurgence of PPPs in recent years aims to bridge the infrastructure gap and alleviate ballooning local debts. These expectations, however, are hard to realize. China's PPPs mainly involve state-owned enterprises and place increasing financial burdens on the government. The central government has taken measures to attract private sector investment to mitigate the financial risk, but the prospects for PPPs remain unclear.