cáng fù yú mín 藏富于民
Keep Wealth with the People
The concept of keeping wealth with the people has long been a part of Chinese political economy. Prior to the Qin Dynasty, the Confucian, Mohist, Daoist, and Legalist scholars as well as military strategists all expounded on this subject. A ruler is expected to be frugal and will not compete with the people for benefits, nor plunder their riches. Policies that are generous towards the people should be adopted, so as to permit and encourage them to become rich through justified means. The underlying assumption here is that a wealthy populace and a wealthy state are one and the same. A wealthy populace is the foundation of a state’s wealth as well as the fundamental guarantee for the state to win popular support. A state’s wealth is more than just about its riches, but about people’s support as well. This is an extension of the concept of “putting the people first,” and in the present day, keeping wealth with the people has become a defining feature of modern civilization.
A person good at governing a state will always first enrich his people before considering their governance. (Guanzi)
If there are limits to taxes levied on the people and the use of such taxes is under control, a state will enjoy stability even if it is small. If there are no limits to the taxes levied on the people and there is no control on how such taxes are spent, a state will face peril even if it is large. (Guanzi)
A ruler good at governing a state will let his people keep their wealth. (The History of the Three Kingdoms)