Many governments world-wide are increasingly encouraging the involvement of interested individuals, groups and organisations in their public infrastructure and construction (PIC) projects as a means of improving the openness, transparency and accountability of the decision-making process and help improve the projects' long-term viability and benefits to the community. In China, however, the current participatory mechanism at the project level exists only as part of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process. With an increasing demand for PIC projects and social equality in China, this suggests a need to bring the participatory process into line with international practice.The aim of this paper, therefore, is to identify the weaknesses of EIA-based public participation in China and the means by which it may be improved for the whole lifecycle of PIC schemes. To do this, the results of a series of interviews with a diverse group of experts is reported which analyse the nature and extent of existing problems of public participation in EIA and suggestions for improvement. These indicate that the current level of participation in PIC projects is quite limited, particularly in the crucial earlier stages, primarily due to traditional culture and values, uneven progress in the adoption of participatory mechanisms, the risk of not meeting targets and lack of confidence in public competence. Finally, a process flowchart is proposed to guide construction practitioners and the community in general.