Four Comprehensives

Four Comprehensives

| David Bandurski

Silhouette of cranes in Beijing. Image by Felix Andrews available at Wikimedia Commons under CC license.

The “Four Comprehensives” was a set of political goals laid out by Xi Jinping in 2014 as an ideological directive for governance looking ahead to 2020, the first of which was the “building of a moderately well-off society.” With the formal achievement of the first of the four “comprehensives” by last quarter of 2020, which became the focus of Party-state propaganda, the formula was changed during the CCP’s Fifth Plenum in October 2020.

Early in his first leadership term, Xi Jinping introduced the “Four Comprehensives” to define the political goals to be achieved on the road to what he called the “Chinese Dream.” The formula, also referred to as the “Four-pronged Comprehensive Strategy,” including the following basic objectives:

  1. Comprehensive building of a moderately well-off society / 全面建成小康社会
  2. Comprehensive deepening of reform / 全面深化改革
  3. Comprehensive promotion of governing the nation in accord with the law / 全面推进依法治国
  4. Comprehensive strict governance of the Party / 全面从严治党

Because the “comprehensive building of a moderately well-off society” — essentially meaning a society with a stable middle class — was defined early on by the administration of Hu Jintao as a goal to be realized by 2020, it was a virtual certainty that the “Four Comprehensives” would need to change in late 2020. This is precisely what happened.

During the Fifth Plenum of the 19th National Congress of the CCP, held in late October 2020, in the midst of a broad propaganda campaign declaring the definitive success of the leadership in achieving a moderately well-off society (failure was never an option from a propaganda perspective), the “Four Comprehensives” formula was changed. It is today led by a new objective, ”promoting the comprehensive building of a modern socialist country” (推进全面建设社会主义现代化国家).

David Bandurski

CMP Director