The Four Modernizations

Part of Deng Xiaoping's program for the People's Republic is the modernization of agriculture, industry, science and technology and the military. In the usual Chinese way, these are known as the ``four modernizations,'' just as other parts of Party doctrine include the ``four supports,'' the ``three upholds,'' and, in former days, no less than nine distinct categories of enemies of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

This is a very old Chinese practice, going back at least to the early Confucians with their ``five relationships'' and ``three sage kings.'' Groups of five were particularly favored, and from the Han on a system of correspondences was elaborated between the five elements, directions (including the center), colors, flavors, animals, virtues, etc., etc. (See Needham and Tuan's Passing Strange and Wonderful for details.) The closest European analogues I can think of are from the Catholic Church: four doctors, four cardinal and three theological virtues, seven deadly sins.