Peaceful Means of Resolving Political Conflicts in the Pre-Qin Period and Their Historical Influence

Social Sciences in China

Vol. 41, No. 2, 2020


Peaceful Means of Resolving Political Conflicts in the Pre-Qin Period and Their Historical Influence



Li Xinfeng


Chinese people have had a long tradition of loving peace and promoting the idea of harmony since ancient times. Drawing on their specific social and cultural basis, many politicians in the pre-Qin period tried to use peaceful means to resolve contradictions, ease conflicts and unite allies. In order to properly handle the complex political, military and diplomatic relations between different political bodies, they considered other important options as well as violent means like war, accumulating rich experience. The most typical of those peaceful means included political solutions, political marriages, simplification of rituals to accord with local customs, and oaths and covenants. Unlike violent tactics such as war, which had an overwhelmingly negative impact on the populace and society, these peaceful means did everything possible to alleviate the suffering of the people and reduced the cost of social progress, and thus played an important role in facilitating ethnic integration and national unity. On the basis of these peaceful means, governments under the centralized system after Qin and Han dynasties came up with new models: heqin (和亲; a sort of marriage alliance, the historical practice of Chinese emperors marrying princesses—usually members of minor branches of the royal family—to rulers of neighboring states), jimi (羁縻; “loose rein,” also known as jimi fuzhou, an autonomous administrative and political organizational system used in China between the 7th and 10th centuries), hushi (互市; a special kind of tributary trade, usually between the states occupying the Central Plains and those founded by border peoples along the boundaries) to deal with the relationship between central and regional regimes (especially those set up by border peoples). Summarizing historical experience, learning from the wisdom of the ancient Chinese in resolving political conflicts, and carrying forward the fine traditions of the Chinese nation is of great practical significance.


Keywords: political conflicts, peaceful means, harmony but not conformity