tiānshí dìlì rénhé 天时地利人和
Opportune Time, Geographic Advantage, and Unity of the People
“Opportune time,” which originally referred to the favorable weather at the time of war, now generally refers to various temporal advantages, including weather, timing, opportunity, and so on. “Geographic advantage,” which originally referred to advantageous positions in battle, now refers to generally various favorable spacial conditions, including terrain, position, location, and such. “Unity of the people,” which originally referred to popular support, unity of all ranks, and societal solidarity, now refers in general to advantages in personnel. Ancient Chinese believed that these three were the most important factors for success. Among them, “unity of the people” is decisive because “opportune time is not as valuable as geographic advantage, and geographic advantage is not as valuable as unity of the people.” The saying reflects the three fundamental dimensions of a problem the Chinese people take into consideration: time(opportunity), space (environment), and people. It reflects the basic notion of putting people at the center of everything.
Favorable weather conditions, geographic advantages, and the unity of the people all must be in place. If not, victory will be costly. (Sun Bin’s Art of War)
Favorable weather conditions are not as valuable as favorable geographic conditions, and favorable geographic conditions are not as valuable as the unity of the people. (Mencius)