Editor's Note: At the end of 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the strategic layout of the Four Comprehensives—comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, deepening reform, advancing the rule of law and strictly governing the Communist Party of China. Later, the new guideline for development became the overall framework for the current leadership's work and has aroused interest at home and abroad. From Issue No.17 onward, Beijing Review publishes a series of commentaries by foreign researchers commissioned by Renmin University of China's Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies.
Since China initiated its economic reform at the end of the 1970s, it has grown significantly, at a rate of more than 8-9 percent every year. Through rapid economic growth, the nation's income per capita has increased significantly while economic growth indicates there is only an increase of average income independent of income inequality and relative poverty.
In order to tackle the issues China faces--such as income inequality, poverty, environment and concerns about the quality of life--President Xi Jinping announced an economic development paradigm shift from economic growth to sustainable development which considers economic growth as well as social development and the environment.
To successfully implement this sustainable development strategy, it is imperative to improve the quality of life and distribute the performance of economic growth equally to all Chinese citizens. It is in this light that the Four Comprehensives emerge as strategies to achieve these aims.
The first comprehensive highlights sustainable development through consideration of quality of life, culture and software, and creating an environmentally friendly society. The second and third comprehensives intend to strengthen institution building through reform policies in the legal, economic and political systems. The fourth focuses on concentrated reform of the Party, a move quite in contrast with the reform strategy in the Western countries with multi-party systems where party discipline is controlled by voting system. It is this fourth comprehensive that will decide whether the Chinese system can be continuously successful or not.
Through emphasizing the creation of a Chinese way to achieve sustainable growth and development, the Four Comprehensives will be symbolic of the future of China as well as for other counties with similar institutional systems.
The author is a professor at the Department of Economics, Korea University, South Korea
Copyedited by Kieran Pringle
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The Four Comprehensives