Protect the People and then Rule as a King
If one can make the people live in peace and happiness, he can unify all the land. In ancient China, a "king" (wang) was not just the one who held the highest power. Rather, he was a man who clearly understood the fundamental principle of maintaining harmony with heaven and earth as well as other humans and enjoyed popular support. To "protect the people" is to love and care for them, ensuring that they obtain the means of survival, receive education and live and work in peace. To "protect the people" is the primary function of the state or government, a prerequisite for winning the people’s hearts and minds; it is also the source of legitimate power. It gives concrete expression to the vision of "putting the people first" and "benevolent governance."
- 曰：“德何如则可以王（wànɡ）矣？”曰：“保民而王（wànɡ），莫之能御也。” （《孟子?梁惠王上》） （[齐宣王]问道：“德行怎样才可以统一天下呢？”[孟子]回答说：“能使百姓安居乐业，就能统一天下了，谁都抵挡不了。”）
King Xuan of Qi said: "What kind of virtue should one pose to be able to rule as a true king?" Mencius replied:"Protect the people and ensure their wellbeing, and you can rule as a king of all the land. No one can challenge you."? (Mencius)