Using Przeworski et al.’s paradigmatic work on democracy and development as a touchstone, this review examines East Asia’s lessons for comparative politics. It focuses particularly on the challenges that China and South-East Asia present for modernization theory, a foundation stone of political science. In most of the rich world, including north-east Asian cases of modernization such as Korea and Taiwan, economic development and democratization have tended to go hand in hand. In South-East Asia, by contrast, almost none of the expected relationships between democracy and development seems to work. The most striking anomaly of all today is China, which appears to be moving ever further away from democratic reform as it grows richer. This disjuncture between theory and practice is explored, along with other, more positive, East Asian contributions to scholarship on democracy and development.