Bureaucratic control, the constraint that a superior imposes on subordinate agencies’ discretion through guidelines, is ubiquitous in administrative organizations. Despite scholarly discussions on the merits and shortcomings of bureaucratic control, we still know little about the impact of the extents of bureaucratic control on subordinates’ compliance patterns. In this article, we argue that bureaucratic control might intensify subordinates’ burdens and incentivize them to strategically reduce compliance with the central guidelines which impose such control on them. We build a database containing 42 social regulatory guidelines issued by the Chinese State Council (central government) and 848 implementation documents issued by provincial governments between 2003 and 2012. As bureaucratic control in a central guideline increases, provincial governments might postpone the release or withhold the implementation documents and reiterate less content of the corresponding central guideline. Interestingly, when provincial governments lack financial resources, the aforementioned reactions to bureaucratic control is weakened and even reversed to be positive. Moreover, central mobilization alleviates the negative impact of bureaucratic control on the surface but might fail to address subordinates’ decrease of compliance in hidden ways. Central monitoring raises the overall level of subordinates’ compliance but does not moderate how subordinates circumvent central guidelines with high degree of control.