zhàn fǎ bì běn yú zhèng shèng 战法必本于政胜
Methods of Warfare Must Be Based on the Success of Politics.
The principles or methods to win a war must be based on the success in politics, that is to say, military outcome is determined by the strength of politics. Ancient Chinese strategists and legalists looked at war from the angle of politics, regarding war as political in essence and an extension of politics. Efficient governance and social harmony among the people were the decisive factors of winning a war. That “the methods of warfare must be based on the success in politics” is an expression of the same idea as the Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) in his On War when he suggested that war was the continuation of politics by another mean, but the former is 2,000 years earlier than the latter.
The principle of winning a war must be based on the success in politics. This way people will not fight each other. Not fighting each other, they will not act out of self-interest but adhere to the will of the ruler. Therefore, the rule of a successful king will consist in making the people refrain from fighting with neighbors but brave in fighting against enemies. (The Book of Lord Shang)