In 1974, Andre Malraux, a famous author and statesman of France, visited Japan. At the news conference, a reporter asked the old man about the differences between Chinese culture and Japanese culture. Malraux said, “China didn’t have warrior spirit. The West Europe had chivalry, and India had it, too. But only China didn’t have it.” Perhaps some Chinese also agreed with him, because they often connected warrior spirit with Japanese Bushido. However, didn’t China really have warrior spirit?
Age of Feudal States
In the Pre-Qin Era (the times before 221 B.C.) the political system of most Chinese feudal states was based on the separation of three powers. Monarchs and prime ministers held the administrative power, Dasikou (大司寇) held the judicial power, and Taishi (大史, also written as "太史" in later times, the title of official historians, also called Neishi [内史] or Shi [史]) held the power of recording history. Administrative officials couldn’t interfere in judicature, and they couldn’t impose their views upon Taishi.
In the times of Qi Xuan-King (齐宣王), the king of Qi (齐) State who was on the throne from 319 B.C. to 301 B.C., there was such a story about a woman of iron will, two loyal brothers, conscientious officials and the judiciary of presumption of innocence. This story was really the excellent qualities' embodiment of a great people of the far times.
Mencius was a great Confucian thinker in the Warring-States Period. He was famous for his people-based (民本) thoughts. His excellent thoughts were quite likely from the enlightening of his mother.
One day in the Spring-Autumn Period, the army of Qi State which invaded Lu State came to a field and saw a woman held a child in her arms and another child followed her. When this woman saw many armymen of Qi came, she put down the child that she held, and held the other child who followed her in her arms. The child who was put down cried and ran to follow, but the woman disregarded him and ran away to a mountain.
This story took place in the Gai State of the Spring-Autumn Period, a country in modern-days Shandong Province. A tribe of Rong Nationality captured this state, and killed the monarch. In order to take advantage of the ministers of Gai State, the chief of the tribe ordered, “If a man dare to kill himself, his wife and children will be all killed.”
Nan Zi was the daughter of the monarch of Song State, and became the second wife of Wei Ling-Gong who was the monarch of Wei State. She was very beautiful, and she was dissolute. Wei Ling-Gong loved her profoundly, and satisfied all hopes of Nan Zi. Nan Zi wanted to meet her elder brother Gongzi Zhao. Gongzi Zhao and Nan Zi had only a father in common. In Song State, they were intimate. So when Nan Zi went to Wei State, she missed her brother and wanted to meet him. Actually Wei Ling-Gong sent an emissary to go to Song State and summon Gongzi Zhao to come to meet his sister.
This story took place in 541 B.C. in Zheng State. Zheng State was a country of the Spring-Autumn Period in modern-days Henan Province. There was a man called Xuwu Fan. His younger sister was very beautiful. A young noble Gongsun Chu who’s “zi” (another name taken at the age of twenty) was Zinan had been bethothed with her. But another noble Gongsun Hei who’s “zi” was Zixi sent his subordinate to give a betrothal gift to her. Because Gongsun Hei was an imperious influence, Xuwu Fan was afraid. So he had to ask Zichan who was the prime minister of Zheng State for help.
In the moral principles of the Orient, a woman should be loyal to her husband. As a daughter, she should filially respect her parents. If a woman’s husband and her father had conflict, what would she do?
In 697 B.C., Zheng Li-Gong (郑厉公), the monarch of the Zheng (郑, where was in modern-day Henan Province) State in the Spring-Autumn Period, wanted to kill his prime minister Zhai Zu (祭足), because Zhai Zu monopolized the power.
Traditional ideas assume disasters are brought by women. So the ends of many dynasties are always regarded as women’s fault. The end of Xia Dynasty was because of Moxi, the wife of Jie who was the last king of Xia; the end of Shang Dynasty was because of Da Ji, the wife of Zhou who was the last king of Shang; the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty was because of Bao Si, the wife of Zhou You-King; and so on. A poem in the Classic of Odes has such lines, “Zong-Zhou was so great, but Bao Si destroyed it.”