Sinologist on China's 'Four Comprehensives'

Updated: 2015-06-01 10:40:52

Ross Terrill, a China specialist, is the author of several books on China including the well-known Mao. [Photo/]

The "Four Comprehensives," named by Chinese President Xi Jinping in December, are "comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepening reform, comprehensively advancing the rule of law, and comprehensively strictly governing the Communist Party of China."

A strategic blueprint for China's future, the "Four Comprehensives" are not only being closely followed by Chinese officials and media, but have also attracted the attention of the outside world.

In this on-going series - China's "Four Comprehensives" in the eyes of sinologists – we will talk to many China experts who are keeping an eye on the issue.

Ross Terrill, a China specialist and research associate at Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, is the author of several books on China including the well-known Mao, a biography of Mao Zedong. The following are his comments through email.

Why do you think China is launching the strategy at such a time?

China faces new responsibilities due to its 3-4 decades of reform success, and that calls for new plans. Power is opportunity. Power also brings duties.

Do China's "Four Comprehensives" have reference values for other developing countries?

Maybe, but Beijing should go slow on that. Africans and Latin Americans can be sensitive about "foreign models".

What connections do you see among the four aspects?

All are interconnected. Furthermore, the party cannot really govern itself. It must allow law to do that, so that the party and society are equal before the law.

A reader with his copy of Mao in Shanghai. [Photo/]

As a national strategic blueprint, what changes do you think the "Four Comprehensives" will bring to China's future?

China will learn that being king of the beasts brings challenges. The smaller animals will nip at China’s ankles. They will say China used to be a victim, but it is now strong. But we smaller counties, are we the new victims?

Will the strategy have influence on the world's future development?

Yes, the USA-led world is fading away. An opportunity exists for China.

Besides the four areas, what else are there in China's overall framework for future administration that you think need to be improved?

Put resources into cultural soft power. That will do more for China's reputation than more submarines. I hope the four aspects will assist a measured rise of China that balances economic growth with political freedom; that takes pains to achieve give-and-take between China's culture and other Asian and world cultures; that appreciates the 21st century world as an interlocked whole; that rejects hyper nationalism; that is cautious about quickly becoming number one, because the US is more resilient than believed by some eager Chinese nationalists and some of the US's own pessimistic intellectuals.


Cover of Ross Terill's China in Our Time. [Photo/]

Chinese edition of Ross Terill's Myself and China.  [Photo/]

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