Understand the Ancient Chinese Political System

The present day political system is inherited from the Romans. LORD's system, as described in the first seven books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges), resembles the ancient Chinese system.

LORD's system failed among the Israelites of old (they were destroyed first by the Babylonians, later by the Romans). And Roman's system prevailed until now, more than 2000 years. Hence it can be seen that Roman's system, which is based on Legislative Laws, has its value.

Isabella Bird traveled to China during the Ching Dynasty, and she has written a book "Yangtze Valley and Beyond".

She has written down many comments about the Chinese system, which, I think, people living in regions influenced by Confucius, such as Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Burma, and China, should know, and make improvements and corrections.

For those living under the Western type of Government, her comment would give a picture of what life was like under the Chinese system, which resembles that of LORD's, and also resembles that of the Islamic countries.

For those unfamiliar with Ancient Chinese system, the following may help :

  1. China was ruled by kings.

  2. Every morning, the king would sit in court, and his military officers and officers for civil affairs would stand on his left and on his right, and they would discuss every matters of importance.

  3. As China is vast in area, the king would send officers, called "Mandarins", to all parts of China, to govern there.

  4. Officers were selected by public exam (examination). And the king would usually interview those who passed. They may either remain in the King's court, or be sent our as "Mandarins" all over China.

  5. The subjects to be examined are
    [(a) Analect of Confucius (b) Analect of Man Chi, or Mencius, Confucius student (c) Two Articles from "Book of Manners" (1) (2)]. Because of this, the precepts of Confucius were widely known all over ancient China.

  6. The "Mandarins" got their salary from the people he governed. They were not paid by the King, but the King granted them authority to collect money from the people.

Can you figure out what life would be like under such system ?

In what follows, words of Isabella were put in boxes. They were taken randomly from her book. Put in brackets with "NOTE" are words from me.


A country where moral education was placed the topmost

Because of the selection of officers by public exam, many schools were established throughout China, and they taught the "classics".

Crafts were not taught, but were taught privately through apprentices by the craftsmen themselves.

The human product of Chinese civilization, religion, and government is to me the greattest of all enigmas, ... , sober, industrious, thrifty, orderly, peaceable, indifferent to personal comfort, possessing great physical vitality, cheerful, contented, persevering - his filial piety, tenacity, resourcefulness, power of combination, and respect for law and order, ...

.... but it is needless to run through the established formula of their vices. Among the things which they lack are CONSCIENCE, and such an enlightened public opinion as shall SUSTAIN RIGHT AND CONDEMN WRONG.

Shanghai, ... , is a splendid example of what British energy, wealth, and organizing power can establish ....
(NOTE : compare Hong Kong)

Truly the "Great Teacher" was one of the greattest of men, for he has cast into a mould of iron for two thousand years the thought, social order, literature, government, and education of 400,000,000 of our race.
(NOTE : Confucius mother believed in LORD. We Chinese called LORD, "High King in Heaven", or simply "High Heaven". Confucius mother prayed to LORD for a child on a small hill, and Confucius was born. Confucius name is , meaning "small hill".)

It is easy to laugh at an education which for boys of all ranks consists solely in the knowledge of the ancient Chinese classics, and there is no doubt that it stunts individuality, belittles genius, fosters conceit, and produces incredible grooviness ....
(NOTE : This is still true for Chinese today, if they refuse to learn mathematics, science, engineering, craftsmanship, .... )

But on the other hand, there is no education, unless it might be one strictly Biblical, which furnishes the memory with so much wisdom for common life, and so many noble moral maxims. Whatever of righteousness, virtuous domestic life, filial virtue, charity, propriety - and just dealing exists among the Chinese, and they do exist - is owed to the permeation of the whole race by the teaching of the classic. ...
These are all attainable in scholarly translations, and, along with chapter IX of Dr. Wells Williams' invaluable volumes, "The Middle Kingdom", ...
(NOTE : "Analect of Confucius, Analect of his student Man Chi" were the beginning. After them many wrote many books, but the teachings were all centered among those of Confucius, of Man Chi.)


A Country ruled by "Mandarins", who were guided by what they learned from the "classics", but who got paid by taxing the people he governed.

It is said truly that on the Hsein or Fu (NOTE : village, small regional province) magistrate the work of at least six men devolves. He is at once tax commissioner, civil and criminal judge, coroner, treasurer, sheriff, and much besides, and he is supposed to have an exhaustive knowledge of everything within his bounds.
(NOTE : Under LORD's system, moral education rests with the teaching Levites and priests, and judicial matters/social welfare rests with "civil servant of ten, civil servant of 100, ... chief civil servant." Civil servants would refer difficult cases to priests to judge.)

The system is infamous, but a traveller who has spent some years in traveling in Turkey, Persia, Kashmir, and Korea, is astonished to find that the Chinese are very far from being an oppressed people, and that even under this system they enjoy light taxation in spite of squeezes, security for the gains of labour, and a considerable amount of rational liberty.

The reader may be staggered by what appears a monstrous paradox, in face of the opinions regarding the infamies of administration previously expressed, but if a single statement is applicable to the whole empire it is this, that freedom is the birth right of the people, that they possess "inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", and that China is one of the most democratic countries on earth .... He is free in all trades and industries, to make money and to keep it ; to emigrate and to return with his gains; free to rise from the peasant's hut to place and dignity; to become a millionaire, and confer princely gifts upon his province; free in his religion and his amusement; and in his social and commercial life.

I may be permitted, however, very diffidently to point out a few of the reasons, which, in my opinion, militate against the evils of administration, and tend to the stability of the country. First among these is the village system. In China the unit is not the individual but the family, indivisible and sacred, the members of which are bound to each other in life and death by indissoluble ties, of the strength of which we cannot form a conception. villages consists of groups of such families, with their headmen and elders, who are responsible for each individual, ... , privileges, ..., consist primarily in the complete control of local affairs, the possession of lands, and absolute freedom for trade and industry.
Among the many advantages of the village system is, that it enables villagers in countless civil cases to avoid the serious evils of litigation in the (NOTE : magistrate court administered by the Mandarins) by the simple method of referring them to arbitration before their headmen and elder.

(NOTE :

LORD : "You shall rise before the hoary head, and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your GOD. [Lev 19:32]

LORD : "Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your GOD gives you. [Ex 20:12]

LORD : "For I hate divorce, says the LORD the GOD of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless." [Mal 2:16]

LORD : " both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death." [Lev 20:10] )


Outside of commercial pursuits an overpowering shadow of dullness rests on Chinese as upon much of Oriental life. The lack of an enlightened native press, and of anything deserving the name of contemporary literature; the grooviness of thought and action; the trammels of a rigid etiquette; ... and the fact that the learned having committed the classics to memory, by which they have rendered themselves eligible for office, have no further motive for study - all make the blissful dreams and the oblivion of the opium pipe greatly to be desired.

What is "in decay" is the administration of government. The people are straight, but officialism is corrupt.


Reasoning with the other person, assertiveness is not strong among Orientals

LORD : "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself. [Lev 19:17]

Jesus : If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. [Mt 18:15]

(Note : Jesus taught us "do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; ..."
[Mt 5:38-42]. This does not mean we should not reason with him. Many Chinese, or Malays would endure wrongs patiently for a while, then explode suddenly. I think they should learn from the British - "assertiveness", reason with the other person. But "assertiveness" without listening to Jesus will also torment a person.

China was invaded by many foreign countries then, and suffered many wrongs under the hands of the invading countries who had tremendous fire power. They became bitter, and they exploded,

... that several foreign ladies have become "queer" and even insane as the result of frights received in riots, and that the wife of one British consul actually died as a result. Consul-General Jamieson truly says that no one who has heard the howling of an angry Chinese mob can ever forget it.


"Pour Yourself out for the Hungry [Is 58:10]" was not strong among the Chinese

One porter for Isabella became sick, and had a temperature 104oF,

There were five baggage coolies carrying nothing, and when I proposed that they should divide one mule's load among them and let him ride, they refused. He had been working, sleeping, and eating with them for twelve days, yet when I asked if they were going to leave him there to die, they laughed and said, "Let him die; he's of no use". Though the water he craved for was only a few yards off they did not care to give him any. When appealed to again they said, "No matter; Mr. Kay can look after him." And so he did, for when I had walked till I was exhausted that he might be carried, Mr. Kay nearly carried him for the remaining distance, and slept without his wadded gown in the keen frosty air, that he might have it. The others laughed at his sufferings, at me for bathing his head, and above all, at my walking to let him ride.
(NOTE : Mr. Kay was a Chinese, so not ALL Chinese are merciless.)


I have written this in the hope that people who are accustomed to Roman's type of Government, can visualize what life would be like under LORD's system, where LORD's Law and Commandments are placed topmost, and also for my own race, as well as those influenced by Confucius (e.g. Japan, Burma, ...), that they might amend their deficiencies : "Uprightness", "Let what you say be simply Yes or No", "Kindness and mercy to the weak and fatherless", "CONSCIENCE, High sense of RIGHT and WRONG".


[*] A Quick Introduction to the Political System designed by LORD, and is explained in the Bible (Please read Exodus to Deuteronomy, Old Testament to see how LORD's system worked. Do not despise LORD's political system because of its simplicity.



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