By “key concepts in Chinese thought and culture” we mean concepts and keywords or phrases the Chinese people have created or come to use that are fundamentally pertinent to Chinese philosophy, humanistic spirit, way of thinking, and values.
Rule by Law
Rule by law, as opposed to rule by man, calls for ruling a state and its people by the ruler through enacting and strictly enforcing laws and regulations. It is an important political thought of the Legalist scholars in the pre-Qin period. Rule by law meted out well-defined rewards and punishments, but tended to be excessively severe and rigid in enforcement. From the Han Dynasty all the way to the Qing Dynasty, rule by law and rule by man were exercised by various dynasties, mostly in combination. With the spread of Western thoughts to China in more recent times, rule by law acquired new meanings.
When our forefathers ruled the state, they did not act unscrupulously in disregard of law, nor did they bestow personal favors within the framework of law. (Guanzi)
Therefore, rule by law is the supreme way to rule a country. It has been exercised by numerous countries in the world for several thousand years. Who conceived this idea and developed it into a theory of governance? It was none other than our fellow countryman Guanzi! (Liang Qichao: A Critical Biography of Guanzi)