The most important of the 80 slogans approved to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party this year is: Strengthening the Four Consciousnesses, remaining firm in the Four Confidences, and achieving the Two Protections!
This is known as the ‘four-four-two formula’ and has nothing to do with football. It is the latest in a long line of number-based slogans that the party uses as a memory-aid and a loyalty test.
The four-four-two formula takes the tradition to the next level, by simply listing three other number-based slogans and exhorting people to follow them. It is used to show loyalty to Xi Jinping, the leader of the party and the country.
Numbered lists are a phenomenon of politics worldwide. Tony Blair had five promises on a pledge card when he won his landslide election. Gordon Brown had his five tests for adopting the euro – only one of which was passed. Boris Johnson has a ‘10-point plan for a green industrial revolution’.