Imperial edicts consist of zhao (诏) and ce (策). Zhao were orders made by an emperor while ce were issued by the emperor to confer commendation on officials and appoint and dismiss them. Liu Xie (465?-520) of the Southern Dynasties discussed in his literary critique The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons various types of official documents used by the emperor to his ministers and those used by higher-ranking officials to lower-ranking ones. Liu Xie pointed out that these types of official documents were highly authoritative and influential, setting rules for the whole nation to follow. Conferring commendations were like “the moon and shining stars” or “timely rain and dew,” showing the emperor’s loving care for his subjects. Reprimands and punishments, on the other hand, showed his “thunderous rage” or the “chill of autumn frost.” These kinds of official documents should be clear-cut in stand, well thought of, based on laws and rules as well as common sense and facts, and correct in wording and syntax. Such official documents should be solemn in tone and refined and moderate in style.
The prince was honored to receive an edict from His Majesty giving him this title. Well versed in Confucian classics, he knew that as a subject prince he was not supposed to leave his designated territory. (The History of the Han Dynasty)
The emperor reigns over the land. His word is sacred. Sitting solemnly in his throne, he is able to have his orders delivered across the country. Only imperial edicts have such power! (Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)