The article analyses why market reforms in the post-Soviet states led them to a state of prolonged stagnation, while the PRC was able to demonstrate significant progress in its socio-economic and technological development and became the second economic power of the world. The object of the research is the transformation of the political systems of the PRC and the post-Soviet countries in the process of intersystem transition. The authors argue that the success of China was due not only to authoritarian modernization, which has repeatedly demonstrated its effectiveness in the process of transitioning from an agrarian society to an industrial one. The CCP’s adherence to Chinese political tradition played a huge role, according to which the state, with its professional bureaucracy, remains the constant basis of social order despite any other changes. Dynasties and political elites replacing each other in power do not destroy the state, but improve it, turning it into an effective tool for the adaptation of society to new challenges. During reforms, China succeeded in keeping the balance between stability and development. The post-Soviet countries, with the exception of Russia, were in significantly different conditions: they did not have developed traditions of statehood so had to start building new ones; in some of them, in the 1990s, the predominant opinion was that in the process of transitioning to a market the role of the state should be minimized; Post-Soviet elites were not interested in creating strong and stable institutions of state power. Their activity was subordinated to realizing groups’ interests.