Throughout its period of economic transition, the Chinese state has readjusted its relationship with industry and developed new regulatory schemes. China's first industry-specific independent regulatory agency, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC), was created in 2003. Its operation does not follow Western practice which adopts the best institutional arrangement for autonomous regulators. This article will examine the failings and regulatory capture of SERC. I argue that because the process of creating a new regulator involves resource reallocation and power redistribution, SERC has suffered both endogenous and exogenous disadvantages since its inception. The compromised institutional design, along with insufficient resources and fragmented authority, has considerably weakened SERC's regulatory capacity. Moreover, SERC was not designed as part of the reform schedule, but rather emerged later as a response to institutional necessities, which also contributes to its vulnerability. As a result, the state has exposed SERC to potential capture by both government entities and regulated enterprises.