Lecture Six: A Model of People-oriented Governance
—— “Wu Yin Ting Zheng” Raised by Yu of the Xia Dynasty
Yu is the first emperor of Xia Dynasty. After his establishing the Xia Dynasty, he attached great importance to take his people’s advice and requirement. He made five kinds of instrument, includes drum (Gu), bell (Zhong), chime stone (Qing), big bell (Duo) and rattle-drum (Tao).(images) Those people who come to deliberate over the politic affairs shall beat the drum; those who offer suggestions for good governance shall beat the bell; those who want Yu’s help shall beat the chime stone; those who want to tell Yu something worring shall beat big bell and those who files a lawsuit shall beat the rattle-drum. Generally speaking, people have different goals can come to discuss with Yu by beating the five kinds of instruments, this is named “WuYin TingZheng”(Distinguishing the cases by the sounds of five different kinds of instrument) .
Yu can distinguish what are the goals of the visitors by listening to the voice of the instruments and he can timely deal with the things. Because there are many people coming to visit him, Yu has been interrupted for many times during his meals or showers. All the things mentioned above indicate that Yu indeed want to know people’s willing and that is why he can maintain the Xia Dynasty as the first king and successfully pass on power to his son named Qi, which creates the hereditary system. Qi also pays attention to the relationship with people and maintains the steady governance. However, his successor named Taikang loses the support of people because of his conduct and is repulsed by the surrounding tribes and the Xia Dynasty falls.[ known to history as “TaiKang ShiGuo”, the reason is “TaiKang is indulged in hunting and pay little attention to people’s life.] (image of TaiKang) ShaoKang restores Xia’s governance during his period, which is named “ShaoKang ZhongXing”[ “ShaoKang ZhongXing” is the first era named with “ZhongXing(resurgence)”, ShaoKang gets the support of the adherent of the Xia Dynasty by the benevolent government with his personal charisma and the help of Younaishi and Youyushi. He wins the war against Hancu and resurrects Xia Dynasty with weaker army under the deliberated plan. From “TaiKang ShiGuo” to “ShaoKang ZhongXing”, it is about 100 years.] (the image of ShaoKang)
The history of the early age of Xia Dynasty is written into an article named ShangShu•WuZiZhiGe(image), the story is told in Yu’s tone that: “People are the foundation of the country and the country is stable with people’s support.” It is the conclusion drawn by the ancient historian in that age. This saying is regarded as a warning by the subsequent rulers. People are the foundation of a country, only when the foundation is solid can a country thrive.
From the perspective of legal system, the lawmakers attach great importance to the people’s livelihood. The people’s livelihood is the most important part in protecting people’s interests and wining people’s support. The law safeguards people’s livelihood in which the basic condition is the land. So, the land takes a great proportion in the legislation and the law of land is the important law to people. What’s more, the legislation can protect people’s life, which refers to the conduct of the death penalty. At a very early age, about the Northern and Southern Dynasty, the death penalty is decided by the government. By the Tang Dynasty, the country implements the death penalty rechecks system, which is also called the death penalty notice system. The regional capital cases (death penalty cases) shall be reported and reviewed for three times and the capital cases in the capital shall be checked for five years. The key point is to prevent from killing innocent people. From the Han Dynasty, the lawmakers also pay attention to protect vulnerable groups, such as the old, the young, the women, the disabled and those people who lose their spouses and children. If the vulnerable groups conduct crimes, they should be sentenced in accordance with charitable punishment principles [refers to that the punishment should be sentenced with caution, it appeared firstly in ShangShu•ShunDian: The punishment may be inappropriate, so when the law-executors pass a sentence, they should conduct the case with compassion and the sentence should be appropriate. In the latter age, it generally refers to the charitable punishment for the old, the young, the women, the disabled and those people who lose their spouses and children, and the compassion to the prisoners.](image) Therefore，the part of attaching importance to people’s livelihood of the law in ancient China is worth for reference. The origin can be traced to the “WuYin TingZheng” of the Xia Dynasty. From the history of this period, we can conclude that “People are the foundation of the country and the country is stable with people’s support.” It is valuable, or in other words, it is a historic experience from a time-travel.