The history of the governance of China is built upon critical thoughts of various philosophers. Among the most influential philosophers and thinkers are Confucius, Xunzi, Mencius and Legalists. Their thoughts were very significant in the governance of various governments in the country. The most common government to be in a dilemma on what line of thought to follow was the era of the Qin Empire.
Confucius is renowned of developing the Golden Rule as used in China which states “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself" (Qing and Daniel, 2012). This indicates his exclusive concern on the relationship between leaders and members of the society. This rule was meant to affirm his philosophy on leadership and punishment for citizens as well as leaders in case of ill conduct. Mencius supported Confucius when he stated “human nature is good” (Qing and Daniel, 2012) an idea to support the self-cultivation process as analyzed by Confucius. However, his thought was challenged by another Confucian thinker known as Xunzi who said “human nature is evil” (Qing and Daniel, 2012). However, their thoughts were aimed at supporting Confucian thoughts.
While the Confucius thought was mainly inclined into power obsessed form of leadership legalist philosophers were inclined to appreciation among common people. Legalists also believed that an individual did not have legitimate civil rights and personal freedom to strengthen their ruler. At this time, the Qin Empire was being developed and needed proper structures that would sustain the empire (Van Wie Davis, 2009). Therefore, the leadership had to adopt a system that would allow easy formation of structures without disruption by individuals in the society. Confucius and his thinkers were mainly interested in a form of governance where members of society had direct role. On the other hand, legalists argued that the government should not allow any form of disruption from the public (Confucianism and Legalism in Ancient China, 2013). Therefore, Qin Empire found legalists line of thought as the most appealing for excellent governance.
Although, Confucian thoughts were highly discouraged in governance in the republic of China, like in the era of Qin Empire, the thinkers continued to develop their thoughts. Their persistence attracted the Han Dynasty, where through Confucianism, the Dynasty developed a ruling system backed by morals and ethics form of governance (Van Wie Davis, 2009).
Before Confucianism, individuals were given positions whether or not they qualified for the job. After adoption of Confucianism by Han Wudi who was the Han Dynasty emperor, the situation changed and written exams had to be offered to determine the most qualified candidate for a given position. Also, Confucius teachings insisted that there should be extensive respect for parents as well as elders (Van Wie Davis, 2009).This is a principle of governance that was heavily honored by the Han Dynasty.
Also, Han Wudi, was never ignorant of Legalism in his governance. He was ready to match the two forms of thoughts to bring up extremely outstanding governance. He had clear understanding that any successful leadership should be a combination of ideas and thoughts. He never cared of the extensive differences between Confucian and Legalists thoughts. The first element borrowed from legalists was elimination of the exclusive powers that China’s princedoms possessed. He found their powers extremely challenging to develop a reliable from of governance. He was relentless in execution of officials. He believed that no one was above the law and every person who went against the law was supposed to be punished (Murphey, 1996). He never gave up on punishing officials like ministers who went against the law.
Han Wudi believed that not all thoughts by philosophers and thinkers were up for negative influence in governance. Therefore, he had to borrow bits from Legalists and Confucius thinkers. Han Wudi is credited massive influence to the modern style of governance in China and other Asian countries.
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Murphey, Rhoads. A history of Asia. 6th ed. New Jersy: Upper Saddle River, 1996. Print.
Qing, Jiang, and Daniel Bell. "A Confucian Constitution for China." New York Times10 July 2012, U.S. Edition ed.: 1. Print.
Van Wie Davis, Elizabeth. "Governance In China In 2010." Asian Affairs: An American Review 35.4 (2009): 195-211. Print.