Today, in advance of the National People’s Congress, due in early March, we have seen the announcement of the Four Comprehensives:
Comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society, to deepen reform, to govern the country strictly according to the law and to enforce strict discipline with the governing Communist Party.
These are concepts of Xi Jingping and will take some time for us to digest.
But the first one is a reference to 2049, a target of Deng Xiaoping. The others might be viewed as the governance to get there.
If that is right then the definition of the first one is important to get to know.
What does a Chinese socialist state look like in 2049? That is the question to answer. When one has that clearly identified the path becomes more apparent, although straight lines are unlikely to be a feature.
The other comprehensives appear to mean that the route will only be successful if proper governance, based on the rule of law, is the basis for going forward.
As the National People’s Congress meets early next month, we will be looking for signs that accountability is increasing, and independent thinking is more evident. For those who want to see a Western form, it is not going
to happen. It is not the Chinese way. But accountability means accountability and that will be more evident and, ultimately, more effective than our systems where the links between commerce and politicians is very powerful. China will need to keep its officials accountable and manage their career expectations to prevent them making rules beneficial to their future prospective employers.
We can expect tensions between major Chinese private sector companies seeking easier routes, and officials seeking to protect the social justice for the people. Finding the balance is universal, and is as much relevant to China as any nation.
Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is the key to understanding Chinese routes.
It will be an interesting time ahead.
As we await the next Five Year Plan due in November/ December, we will be watching for more detail of the adjustments to the economy to bring China to its first target of 2021 and its second one of 2049.
As China develops its own system, distinct from the Western systems, so a developing system will unfold from China through Central and South Asia to the Middle East, to Africa and to Europe.
Different systems do not mean conflicts. They are different routes to sustainable living standards. We need to ensure that we both work in each other’s systems. To do that we need to know theirs as they know ours.