While China’s communist regime has made significant progress to reestablish and expand political institutionalization in the 1990s, it remains far short of what is required to meet the needs of a rapidly modernizing country. At the elite and sub-elite level, various features of the political system suffer from either a lack of efficacy or a lack of normative coherence or both. As a result, the ills of authoritarian regimes—corruption, misgovernance, illegitimacy, and instability—remain legion. Phases of regime consolidation since 1949 have invariably been followed by phases of breakdown. The next phase of breakdown may however open the door to democracy.