This refers to governance of a state based on benevolence, proposed first by Mencius (372?-289 BC). He held that everybody was born with a heart of benevolence, but this needed to be nourished constantly to attain the virtue of benevolence in reality. The ruler should constantly have his heart of benevolence nourished, taking care of his subjects, providing them with necessary living materials, and keeping good social order. Governance based on this kind of benevolence is called benevolent governance. If the ruler implements such governance, he will be able to unite the whole people and have a strong country.
Mencius said, “Everyone has a compassionate heart. Kings in the past had such hearts, thence came the governance of benevolence. With benevolence, governing the state is as easy as playing with a small toy in the hand.” (Mencius)
Mencius replied, “With a territory of a hundred square li, it is possible for one to rule as a true king. If Your Majesty govern with benevolence, refrain from imposing harsh punishment, and lighten taxes and imposts on the people, they will plow deeply and weed thoroughly. The able-bodied will, on their days off, care for their parents, and they will show fraternal love, loyalty and good faith. At home, they will serve their fathers and brothers, and away from home, their elders and superiors. So they are able to defeat the Qin and Chu troops even with wooden sticks.” (Mencius)