A U.S. public in­tel­lec­tual and renowned China ex­pert, de­liv­ered a speech at the BRICS Sem­i­nar on Gov­er­nance in Quanzhou of south­east China’s Fu­jian Prov­ince on Au­gust 17. Edited ex­cerpts of his speech are as fol­low:

Beijing Review - - Forum -

lobal gov­er­nance is per­haps the most press­ing need of our com­plex and of­ten frac­tious world. Never be­fore have we faced such di­vi­sive and in­ter­wo­ven chal­lenges—po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, so­cial, tech­no­log­i­cal, eth­nic and re­li­gious. Given such un­prece­dented global un­cer­tain­ties—antiglob­al­iza­tion, Brexit, U.S. Pres­i­dent Trump, re­gional con­flicts too nu­mer­ous to name— there is a great need for a new ap­proach to global gov­er­nance.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping is now propos­ing a grand vi­sion of global gov­er­nance—stress­ing the strength of sta­bil­ity and the goal of mu­tual pros­per­ity—with China play­ing a new role in seeking global win-win co­op­er­a­tion. BRICS is one plat­form in an in­creas­ingly com­plex en­vi­ron­ment of global gov­er­nance. The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­vides a mech­a­nism to fa­cil­i­tate de­vel­op­ment in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and re­verse dev­as­tat­ing dis­par­i­ties in eco­nomic and so­cial well-be­ing.

The Four Com­pre­hen­sives

Pres­i­dent Xi’s com­pre­hen­sive gov­er­nance be­gins with his Four Com­pre­hen­sives, his over­ar­ch­ing po­lit­i­cal the­ory, enu­mer­at­ing what he con­tends are the four most crit­i­cal cat­e­gories for mak­ing the Chi­nese dream, his grand vi­sion, a re­al­ity—com­pre­hen­sively build­ing a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety; com­pre­hen­sively deep­en­ing re­form; com­pre­hen­sively govern­ing the na­tion ac­cord­ing to law; and com­pre­hen­sively strictly govern­ing the Party. In short, the Four Com­pre­hen­sives ex­press Xi’s ap­proach to gov­er­nance.

While for­eign­ers of­ten dis­miss the po­lit­i­cal apho­risms of China’s lead­ers as sim­plis­tic slo­ga­neer­ing, they miss an op­por­tu­nity to en­rich their un­der­stand­ing of the re­al­i­ties of China. Chi­nese of­fi­cials cer­tainly take the Four Com­pre­hen­sives se­ri­ously. I know: I have had pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions and con­ducted public in­ter­views in my fo­cus on Xi Jin­ping: Gov­er­nance Phi­los­o­phy and Po­lit­i­cal Thought for Closer to China, my weekly tele­vi­sion pro­gram on China Global Tele­vi­sion Net­work (CGTN). Here is what I’ve found.

First is the ef­fort to pro­mote, at home and abroad, Xi’s way or style of gov­er­nance and his high- level, in­te­grated po­lit­i­cal think­ing. But why gov­er­nance? Why Four Com­pre­hen­sives? And how do they re­late?

Each of the Four Com­pre­hen­sives has its own na­ture, a dis­tinct lin­guis­tic char­ac­ter. Mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety is a goal. Deep­en­ing re­form is a means. Rule of law is a prin­ci­ple. Strict dis­ci­pline of the Party is an ac­tion or state of af­fairs. More­over, each has been a ma­jor pol­icy in it­self, sug­gested and sup­ported by pre­vi­ous lead­ers for many years: mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety since 2002 ( 15 years); re­form since 1978 ( 39 years); rule of law since at least 1997 (20 years); dis­ci­pline of the Party (in a sense) since the Party was founded in 1921.

So what’s Xi’s pur­pose for com­bin­ing the four now? What’s the struc­tural com­mon­al­ity? What’s the uni­fy­ing in­no­va­tion?

As I see it, the Four Com­pre­hen­sives emerge as Xi’s pre­vail­ing po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of gov­er­nance via two lin­guis­tic de­vices and two prag­matic pur­poses. The lin­guis­tic de­vices are com­bin­ing the four poli­cies into a sin­gle idea, and us­ing the same word “com­pre­hen­sive” as a de­scrip­tor of each. Com­bin­ing them makes the point that th­ese four are fun­da­men­tal, the ba­sic driv­ers, and that if achieved, all else to re­al­ize the Chi­nese dream would fol­low. “Com­pre­hen­sive” sig­nals two no­tions: Each pol­icy is fac­ing crit­i­cal chal­lenges in the “new era” of the “new nor­mal,” such that each must be ex­panded be­yond its prior for­mu­la­tion, and Xi is mak­ing a very public com­mit­ment to each pol­icy, such that there is now no turn­ing back.

The prag­matic pur­poses are a can­did com­pi­la­tion of ex­pe­ri­ences and as­sess­ment of cur­rent con­di­tions and a pri­or­ity to im­ple­ment and act in or­der to achieve the dom­i­nant goal for 2020—re­al­iz­ing the mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety. As less than three years re­main un­til 2020, the Four Com­pre­hen­sives high­light the deep-rooted com­plex­ity of what it will take to achieve the Chi­nese dream and the need for a clar­i­fy­ing call to ac­tion to make it hap­pen.

A se­nior the­o­rist said that the Four Com­pre­hen­sives are a “sys­tem­atic ap­proach to spe­cific ac­tions that di­rectly ben­e­fit the

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