Embracing Distant Peoples by Means of Virtue
This expression refers to pursuing conciliatory and benevolent policies and offering benefits to tribes and groups in remote areas. It was a political concept adopted by successive governments led mostly by the Han people in their relations with other ethnic groups and tribes in remote areas not yet directly under their rule, and foreign states. It also represented an important component of the theory of winning over others by virtue. China was, as it is today, a multi-ethnic country. The Han-led government ruled over a large territory and believed that they had an advanced culture. They usually took a conciliatory approach based on the Confucian concept of benevolence in dealing with the tribes and populations in remote regions, rather than conquering them by force, with the goal of placating them and winning their allegiance.
Guan Zhong said to the Marquis of Qi, “I have heard it said: Win over the disaffected with respect and embrace distant peoples with virtue. With virtue and respect unchanging, there is no one that will not be embraced.” (Zuo’s Commentary on The Spring and Autumn Annals)
Making Full Use of Resources to Enrich the People
The ancient Chinese believed that good governance allowed people to lead a life of plenty. The ruler should be frugal, not extravagant or wasteful. He should make good use of the country’s material resources, reduce the corvée and tax burdens on the people so that they could live peaceful, prosperous, and happy lives. This belief was one of the sources of advocacy for the people’s livelihood and socialist thinking in modern China.
A ruler should manifest his virtue in good governance, and the goal of governance is to bring a good life to the people… The ruler should act in an upright and virtuous manner, and ensure that the country’s resources are put to good use and that the people live a prosperous life. These three goals complement one another. (The Book of Documents)