A Critical Appraisal of China’s ‘Four Comprehensives’ Grand Narrative


  • John Garrick Macquarie University, Australia
  • Yan Chang Bennett Princeton University, USA


In China today,President Xi Jinping’s new grand narrative is framed by the widely publicised ‘four comprehensives’ (四个全é¢; ‘sigequanmian’). This narrative aims to : 1.build a moderately prosperous society; 2. deepen reform; 3. govern the nation according to law, and 4. tighten Party discipline. It is essentially a political narrative that tells a moral tale that legitimizes and glorifies the virtues of the present. It also attempts to shrug off mistakes of the previous dynasty. Drawing on the legal disciplines of economic law, international comparative law and the a priori analytic method of legal narrative analysis, this paper provides a critical appraisal of the ‘four comprehensives’, paying special attention to how the four principal strands of the narrative shape the directions of China’s socialist rule of law reforms and governance.

Key words: Chinese law reform; four comprehensives; 四个全é¢; sigequanmian;socialist rule of law;legal narrative analysis; economic-law nexus, South China Sea.


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Author Biography

Yan Chang Bennett, Princeton University, USA

Yan Bennett is manager for the Paul and Marcia Wythes Center on Contemporary China. She most recently worked at the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs where she served as the assistant director from 2009-2015.  

Before coming to Princeton, Bennett was a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State and served overseas in China and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In China, she served as vice consul and had the opportunity to report on U.S. corporate labor practices, intellectual property issues, and the results of a municipal election in Guangdong Province. In Bosnia, Bennett served as special assistant to the ambassador and supported senior staff in achieving foreign policy objectives. She has received awards for superior performance from the State Department, including a personal commendation from Secretary Powell.  As a legal scholar, she has a number of publications on China's legal reform and on the rule of law under the Xi administration.

Bennett has a B.A. in Political Science and received an M.A. in International Affairs from the Elliot School at George Washington University. She holds a JD and practices in the areas of business and international law.

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How to Cite

Garrick, J., & Bennett, Y. C. (2015). A Critical Appraisal of China’s ‘Four Comprehensives’ Grand Narrative. UUM Journal of Legal Studies, 6, 1–11. Retrieved from https://e-journal.uum.edu.my/index.php/uumjls/article/view/uumjls.6.2015.4584