THE theory on which the edifice of government traditionally rested in China is well stated by Meijer:

Chinese philosophy started from the idea that heaven and earth were governed by one principle—called tao, the way, the creative principle of natural order. Any act contrary to this order in human society resulted in a disruption of the harmony between heaven and earth, and might lead to such calamities as flood, drought, internal disorder. So that the order might be preserved, heaven chose men of outstanding virtue, te, and gave them the mandate, mingy to rule their fellow creatures. 1