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On The Subject Of Administration

The Governing Principles of Ancient China - Qunshu Zhiyao 360

Paramount Impartiality

When the perfect order prevails, the world is like a home shared by all. Virtuous and able men are elected to serve the public. All men love and respect their own parents and children, as well as the parents and children of others. There is caring for the old, nourishment and education for the children, and means of support for widows and widowers, orphans, lonely people, as well as for the disabled and sick. Intrigues and conniving for ill gain are unknown, and villains such as thieves and robbers do not exist. These are the characteristics of an ideal world, the commonwealth state.

Scroll 7: Li Ji

The world is not a world for one but for all. He who shares benefits with the world will earn the support of the world. He who monopolizes benefits for himself will lose the world.

Scroll 31: Liu Tao

One needs to be impartial to understand the will of the people. And to be totally impartial, one needs to have no jealousy.

Scroll 49: Fu Zi

A leader who loves his people will be able to make them feel safe and at peace. If he enjoys learning from the sages, he will be able to bring prosperity to the country. Without these, his own safety as well as that of the country will be placed in peril. When a ruler clearly understands the responsibilities of his job and is able to distinguish the relative degrees of urgency in each of his tasks, and chooses virtuous and able people to run the government in an orderly way, righteousness will flourish and private side-deals will cease. Subsequently, virtuous and able people will be given important posts while flatterers will be restrained. Those who seek personal benefits will be dismissed, and those who are incorruptible will be entrusted with greater responsibilities.

Scroll 38: Sun Qing Zi

I, (Minister Dong Zhongshu) have heard that when Emperor Yao was entrusted to be the emperor, he had taken upon himself all the world’s concerns as his own concerns. He did not rejoice because he had become the emperor.

Scroll 17: Han Shu, Vol. 5

The notable politician, thinker and Confucian scholar, Lu Jia, who lived during the Han dynasty, commented that: “When the world is at peace, pay attention to the prime minister. When the world is in crisis or at war, pay attention to the general. When the prime minister and the general can work together in harmony, virtuous people will come around and pledge their allegiance. When this happens, power will not be divided even when the world is undergoing change.”

Scroll 16: Han Shu, Vol. 4

In my opinion, the powerful state of Qin has not attacked our state (of Zhao) because both of us are here. Now if we, the two tigers, have conflicts and fight among ourselves, we will no longer be able to work side by side. The reason why I am doing this is because I am putting the country’s safety before my personal feelings.”*

Scroll 12: Shi Ji, Vol. 2

*Background story:
The “I” refers to Lin Xiangru, a senior minister in the state of Zhao during the Warring States period. He and General Lian Po served together in the government, and the metaphor of the “two tigers” refers to Lin and Lian. Because Minister Lin had been given credit for returning the precious Heshi jade to the Duke of Zhao, he was promoted to a more senior post than General Lian. Lian was very upset over this promotion and he encouraged his people to smear Lin’s reputation. However, Lin had avoided confronting Lian by giving the excuse that Lin was sick and therefore unable to confront Lian. The quote was based on Lin’s conversation with Lin’s closest aides when the latter asked why he would not retaliate. When Lian Po came to know about this later, he was deeply ashamed. He took off his shirt and tied a bramble branch on his back and went to Lin’s house to ask for forgiveness. The two finally became very good friends ready to serve the country and die for each other.