Kingly Way (Benevolent Governance)
Confucianism advocates the political principle of governing the country through benevolence and winning people’s support through virtue as opposed to badao (霸道) – the despotic way. Enlightened kings and emperors of ancient times governed the country primarily through benevolence and virtue. In the Warring States Period, Mencius advocated this idea as a political concept: Only by governing the state with benevolence and righteousness, and by handling state-to-state relations on the basis of virtue, can a ruler win popular support and subsequently unify the country. The kingly way or benevolent governance epitomizes the Chinese people’s respect for “civilization” and their opposition to the use of force and tyranny.
By upholding justice without any partiality or bias, the kingly way is inclusive and boundless. (The Book of History)
One who governs by force through feigning virtue may gain only hegemonic dominance, and hegemony must have a large state as its basis; one who governs through virtue and benevolence is a king who does not necessarily need a large state … Allegiance commanded through force from the people does not mean the conquest of their heart; it is only because they are not strong enough to revolt. Allegiance gained through benevolence and virtue is really from the heart of the people, who will follow whole-heartedly, just like that of the seventy-two disciples of Confucius. (Mencius)