kēzhèng měng yú hǔ 苛政猛于虎
Tyranny Is Fiercer Than a Tiger.
Harsh and cruel laws are more horrifying even than a tiger. The expression comes from The Book of Rites. The story goes that when Confucius was passing the foot of Mount Tai, he saw a woman weeping on a grave. He sent Zilu over to inquire. The woman said there were many tigers in the area and that she had lost three of her family to them, but because the local laws were not harsh, she did not wish to move away. Confucius sighed and said, “Tyranny is fiercer even than a tiger.” This is a criticism of harsh government, and an exhortation to rulers to reduce taxes and cut conscript labor, and to treat their subjects with compassion. It is an expression of Confucian principles of benevolent rule.
Confucius says, “Remember this, young man, harsh and tyrannical laws are worse even than a fierce tiger.” (The Book of Rites)