Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Democracy

Publication Date



China’s reform era is ending. Core factors that characterized it – political stability, ideological openness, and rapid economic growth – are unraveling. In part, this is the result of Beijing’s steadfast refusal to contemplate fundamental political reform. Since the early 1990s, this has fueled the rise of entrenched interests within the Communist Party itself. It has also contributed to the systematic underdevelopment of institutions of governance among state and society at large. Now, to address looming problems confronting the nation, Chinese leaders are progressively cannibalizing institutional norms and practices that have formed the bedrock of the regime's stability in the post-Mao era.