Ten legal traditions(I): realistic, practical and pragmatic

(english.legalinfo.gov.cn) Updated : 2019-01-09

Ten Legal Traditions (VII): Honesty and Clear Distinction between Reward and Penalty

Honesty is the value orientation and vitality of law. The philosophers in ancient China had made statements about honesty: Confucian said that all people would die one day while only the honesty would survive which regarded honesty way more important than life. Mencius also regarded honesty as a means to communicate between human beings and nature. It is the same that if there is no honesty in law, the value of the law would be lost.

In order to make people believe in law, Shang Yang used to stand a piece of wood at the northern gate and said that anyone who could move it to the southern gate would be rewarded a thousand pence. The people whispered and would not believe. Then Shang Yang raised the reward to two thousand pence. Then someone stood out and moved the wood to the southern gate and was awarded two thousand pence. Then the authority of law was set up. In Song Dynasty, Wang Anshi, a reformist, used to write a poem to complement on this. In the poem he wrote: if you would like to asked the people to do something, the key lied on honesty and integrity.

Since ancient times, honesty is the key to drive people and honest words weigh more than gold. He also complemented Shang Yang and asked people not to blame him because he would execute policies properly. Honesty in law is to reward people and punish people equally and distinctly. It is similar to the market economy and market practice rules, which were promulgated in the law of the Tang Dynasty. These rules were used to punish dishonest merchants who lied on the quality or quantity of the products for instance. Honesty was the key in ancient market practice rules which is the same in nowadays’ market economy. Besides there was a consensus that the honest people are a man of noble character while dishonest people are villain. We can learn from this practice. If we would develop market economy, we cannot make it prosperous without honesty and a clear distinction between reward and punishment. Therefore, these legal traditions are of great importance to theses days.

|<< Previous Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next Page >>|