The Five Bonds
Also known as the five human relationships, these refer to the relationships between father and son, between monarch and minister, between husband and wife, between siblings, and between friends. Ancient Chinese people believed that these were the most basic relationships between people. Each relationship had to follow the corresponding norms, namely, between father and son, there should be affection; between sovereign and minister, righteousness; between husband and wife, attention to their separate roles; between siblings, a proper order; and between friends, honor and trust. It was held that balancing these five relationships was the basis for governing the country and society, and that they showed Chinese culture as people-orientated, with an emphasis on good order.
People possess a moral nature. If they are well fed, warmly clad, and comfortably lodged, yet left untaught, they would be no better than beasts. Such was the concern of the sage Shun that he appointed Xie to be the minister of instruction, to teach interpersonal relationships and the corresponding norms: between father and son, there should be affection; between sovereign and minister, righteousness; between husband and wife, attention to their separate roles; between old and young, a proper order; and between friends, honor and trust. (Mencius)
Only since Emperor Shun taught the five interpersonal relationships, have there been basic norms to follow throughout the land. (Wang Yongbin: Night Talks Round the Hearth)