The Yongzheng Emperor
(r. 1723-1735)
The Yongzheng Emperor
Dragon Icon
Yongzheng Emperor as Confucian Sage: with family, on the throne, and in the library
The Yongzheng Emperor
A Confucian Sage?
Chinese Character for Li (Ritual) Confucius Chinese Character for Ren (Humaneness)
 
Humaneness and the Confucian Golden Rule
With regard to humaneness: if you wish to establish yourself, then you must help others to establish themselves; if you wish to develop yourself, then you must help others to develop themselves. The ability to take one’s own wishes as an example [of how others would want to be treated] — this may be called the method of [cultivating] humaneness. (Analects 6:30, translated by Brian Hoffert)
 
The Confucian Path to Bringing Harmony to Heaven and Earth
 
The Relationship Between Humaneness and Ritual Propriety
Yan Yuan asked about humaneness. The Master said, “To cultivate oneself by returning to ritual propriety is the way to become humane. If one could cultivate oneself by returning to ritual propriety for a single day, the whole world will gravitate toward [the practice of] humaneness. ...
Three Monkeys: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
If it is contrary to ritual, do not look; if it is contrary to ritual, do not listen; if it is contrary to ritual, do not speak; if it is contrary to ritual, do not move. (Analects 12:1, translated by Brian Hoffert)
Chinese Character for Filial Piety (Xiao)
Twenty Four Exemplars of Filial PIety
 
#2: Han Emperor Wen Tastes His Mother’s Medicine
Both filial and humane, he was known throughout the land.
Awesome as a leader, he ruled the Hundred Kings.
For three long years he nursed his ailing mother, the Empress,
Duty-bound, he tasted every medicine she took.
(The Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety)
 
Emperor Wen of the Han Tending to His Mother, Empress Dowager Jing
 
"The Emperor rules all-under-heaven with filial piety"
 

 
"The virtue of a noble person is like the wind
while that of the common people is like grass.

When the wind blows, the grass must bend."
(Analects 12:19)

 
"The Virtue of a noble person is like wind while that of the common people is like grass. When the wind blows, the grass must bend"
 
Dragon Icon
Yongzheng's "Sixteen Maxims"
 
The Sixteen Maxims
The Sacred Edict of the Kangxi Emperor
 
The purpose of Kangxi's sixteen hortatory maxims, each expressed in seven characters, was to articulate an ethical and moral framework for subjects of the Qing state. In 1724, the Yongzheng emperor issued an amplified version of his father's maxims in literary Chinese. ... For the Confucian ruler, well-managed families and harmonious personal relations were the foundation of an orderly state, and both the Kangxi and Yongzheng versions of the Sacred Edict stressed this basic principle. (DC, 48)
 
Amplifications of Maxim 2
“Strengthen Clan Relations to Illustrate Harmony”
Bonsai Tree... The clan is like the water of a spring which branches into several streams and then dozens of streams as it emerges. But all of these branches originated from the same spring. ... The clan members are like the hands, feet, ears, eyes, mouth, nose, and other parts of the ancestors body; when you put them together they are one body. Just think, if there is a sore on my body or if I sprain my ankle or break my leg, doesn’t my whole body feel uncomfortable? If you try to entrap or harm a clan member or insult or cheat him and make him feel uncomfortable, can you imagine that you will feel happy? You should treat them as you would yourself. You should look at clan members as part of one body; if one place hurts then all other places will hurt. If one spot itches, all spots will itch. Only when the blood flows throughout the body will things be as they should be. Therefore, the ancients said: ‘To educate the people, filial piety, brotherly affection, harmony, love, willingness to endure for others, and charity are necessary.’ ... If someone doesn’t want harmony in his own clan he is unfilial and goes against brotherly affection. (DC, 49-50)
 
A Teal of Silver with the Chinese Character for "Longevity"
Reorganizing the Tax System
As the emperor began to realize the size of the tax deficits and the casualness with which the fiscal crisis had been treated in his father’s reign, he urged his officials to suggest means of reforming the financial structure, and established a small executive office of financial review to stand separate from and above the Ministry of Revenue. ... One might have thought it simple to increase income by raising the number of land-tax and head-tax units; but here the obligations of filiality to Emperor Kangxi were too strong, and Yongzheng did not attempt to change his father’s 1712 ruling [which froze the amount of tax that could be collected in a given area regardless of future population increases]. Moreover, the central premise of Chinese political theory, which the Manchus had also made their own, was that a low tax base was essential to the well-being of the country and the true proof of an emperor’s benevolence. ...
 
George Bush with the Caption "Read my lips: NO NEW TAXES!"
 
The current tax system was not only entrenched but full of abuses. Members of the upper class were often wealthy landowners, and, as in Kangxi’s reign, many of them concealed their tax responsibilities in a maze of false names, misregistrations, transferred holdings, mortgages, and so on, which made it almost impossible to trace their exact holdings. Furthermore, much of the economic power in the countryside was in the hands of small landholders who tyrannized local villagers. These landholders colluded with the clerks in the provincial magistrates’ offices in order to evade paying their own taxes and to force the poorer peasants to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden for the whole community. ...
Tax Registers with Landlore and Magistrate
Between 1725 and 1729, Yongzheng reversed his father’s casual approach and made a concerted effort to reform the land tax and to break the power of the local intermediate groups. ... He began by slowly accumulating accurate information through palace memorials and by appointing new men — often Manchus or Chinese bannermen who would be less influenced by the local elites — to the key offices of provincial governor and financial commissioner. Yongzheng then moved to establish an official consensus that a fixed rate of surcharge should be levied on the basic land-tax (di) and head-tax (ding) quotas, that all of this surcharge should be passed on to the provincial financial commissioners’ offices, and that all other supplementary fees and gifts should be declared illegal. The tax money gathered by the financial commissioners’ offices would then be reallocated within the province on an equitable basis. Part would be used to give far higher salaries to the local officials than they had ever received before (this was called “money to nourish honesty”), and part would go into county funds for the support of irrigation works, road and school building, and other worthy or necessary local needs that did not come under the purview of the central Ministry of Revenue budget. (SMC, 79-81)
Anti-Corruption
Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016

Corruption in Contemporary China

Xi Jinping quote on his anti-corruption efforts
 
Dragon Icon
Yongzhengg with Qin Shihuang and the Chinese Characters for Law and Punishment
The Yongzheng Emperor
A Legalist Tyrant?
Yongzheng's "Sixteen Maxims"
 
Amplifications of Maxim 8
“Speak of Law to Give Warning to the Stupid and Stubborn”
... Is it possible that the State could enjoy beating and decapitating people? It is only because the people do not learn to be good and do not obey instructions that there is no other alternative than to use the penal law to control them. Since in many cases, the people break the law because they do not know it, this book has been compiled to instruct them to be good people and not bad people. For those who do bad, punishment is proportional to the offense, but even should you merely curse someone or take a blade of grass or stick of wood you will not escape the law. ... Make it your constant practice, by means of the law of the land, to curb and control yourselves, and to admonish others. Those who fear the law, will, come what may, avoid breaking it. Those who dread punishments will surely work to not incur it. If depravity is eliminated, then wrangling will cease. The muddled will be enlightened and the stubbornly evil will be made good. The people will be happy in the fields and the soldiers will be happy in their ranks. If the penal law is not used for several hundred years, will not everyone enjoy peace together? (DC, 51-52)
 
Man Kneeling Before a Judge
 
“Random Notes from Prison”
Fang Bao

 
One of the most infamous "literary inquisitions" of the Kangxi era was the case of Dai Mingshi (1653-1713), who printed a set of nostalgic essays in 1701 entitled Nanshan ji (The southern hills collections). Ten years later, when Dai had become a compiler in the Hanlin Academy, he was arrested for having used southern-Ming reign titles in this work. In the roundups that followed, many of Dai's relatives and friends were taken into custody. Dai himself was decapitated.
     One of the scholars touched by the circles of recrimination that radiated out of the Nanshan ji affair was Fang Bao. ... The document translated below is Fang Bao's description of his experience in prison. Its stark portrayal of prison conditions illustrates the perils faced by those who ran afoul of the law in the early Qing era. Only an unceasing flow of silver proferred to the guards and wardens could save one from the worst abuses. (DC, 39)
 
In the prison there were four old cells. Each cell had five rooms. The jail guards lived in the center with a window in the front of their quarters for light. At the end of this room there was another opening for ventilation. There were no such windows for the other four rooms and yet more than two hundred prisoners were always confined there. Each day toward dusk, the cells were locked and the odor of the urine and excrement would mingle with that of the food and drink. Moreover, in the coldest months of the winter, the poor prisoners had to sleep on the ground and when the spring breezes came everyone got sick. The established rule in the prison was that the door would be unlocked only at dawn. During the night, the living and the dead slept side by side with no room to turn their bodies and this is why so many people became infected. ...
Man in Chains Standing in Front of an Official
Among three of my cellmates who were beaten with clubs, one paid thirty taels [i.e. ounces of silver] and his bones were only slightly damaged and he was sick for two months; another paid double and his skin was hurt but he recovered in twenty days; the third paid five times more and was able to walk as usual that very night. Someone asked the beater, “Since some of the prisoners are rich and others poor but all give something, why draw a distinction in punishing them simply because of their payments?” The answer was, “If there was no difference, who would pay more?” (DC, 39-41)
Dragon Icon
Judicial Court in Contemporary China

The People’s Court in Contemporary China

Man Being Tortured in Prison

Prison Conditions in Contemporary China

Uyghur Prison Camp
 
Dragon Icon
Map of the Warring States and Qin Conquest
Censorship & Violence
Past & Present
Flag of the People's Republic of China

Flag of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
 
 
 
Seal Script Character for Legalism (fajia) Your servant suggests that all books in the imperial archives, save the memoirs of Qin, be burned. All persons in the empire, except members of the Academy of Learned Scholars, in possession of the Classic of Odes, the Classic of Documents, and discourses of the hundred philosophers should take them to the local governors and have them indiscriminately burned. Those who dare to talk to each other about the Odes and Documents should be executed and their bodies exposed in the marketplace. Anyone referring to the past to criticize the present should, together with all members of his family, be put to death. Officials who fail to report cases that have come under their attention are equally guilty. After thirty days from the time of issuing the decree, those who have not destroyed their books are to be branded and sent to build the Great Wall. Books not to be destroyed will be those on medicine and pharmacy, divination by the turtle and milfoil, and agriculture and arboriculture. People wishing to pursue learning should take the officials as their teachers. (Sources of Chinese Tradition, 209-10)
 
The Burning of the Books and the Burying of the Scholars
 
Seal Script Character for Legalism (fajia)[The First Emperor said:] “I confiscated all the books from the empire and got rid of all those that were of not use. ... I have also directed people to question the various scholars residing in Xianyang, and it appears that some are spreading dubious stories in order to mislead the black-headed people!” He then ordered the imperial secretary to subject all the scholars to investigation. The scholars reported on one another in an attempt to exonerate themselves. Over 460 persons were convicted of violating the prohibitions, and were executed [note: the word translated here as “executed” is frequently interpreted as “buried alive”] at Xianyang, word of it being publicized throughout the empire so as to act as a warning to later ages. (Records of the Grand Historian: Qin, 58)
Dragon Icon
South Park Frame: "Tian An Men: On This Site, in 1989, Nothing Happened"

Censorship & Violence in China & Taiwan?

Taiwanese being shot by MIlitary during the 2/28 Incident