China's struggle for the rule of law is at a critical juncture. As a key element of governance in the PRC today, China's legal system affects not only domestic affairs but also China's engagement with the world. But can a credible legal system emerge which protects the rights of citizens and international partners without undermining the power of the Party State? And is the Chinese Communist Party willing to embark on judicial reforms that may jeopardize its very survival? Understanding the PRC legal system is increasingly important as China rises to prominence in the world. In this compelling analysis, noted legal scholar Pitman Potter examines the ideals and practices of China's legal regime, in light of international standards and local conditions. Against a rich historical backdrop, Potter explains how China's legal system supports three key policy objectives; namely, political stability, economic prosperity, and social development. In exploring these competing policy goals and the tensions between them, he also raises fundamental questions about government expectations of the role of law in regulating local and international socio-economic and political relationships. This wide-ranging and readable introduction will be an invaluable guide for students and non-specialists interested in China's ongoing process of legal modernization.