The pre-Qin period refers to the extended period before Emperor Qinshihuang’s unification of ancient China.
About 1 700 000 years ago, the ancestors of the Chinese people lived in present-day Yuanmou County, Yunnan Province. This period is now generally considered the beginning of primitive society in China. About 2070 BC, the Xia Dynasty came into being. This was China’s first dynasty, and it lasted for more than 400 years.
Succeeding the Xia was the Shang Dynasty (also called the Yin Dynasty for changing its capital several times and finally in Yin, today’s Anyang city, Henan Province). The Shang Dynasty was a great power in the world which lasted over 500 years. This dynasty bestowed upon its posterity a great heritage of artifacts such as extremely precious inscriptions on bones, tortoise shells and bronze wares.
The third kingdom was the Western Zhou Dynasty, with Hao as its capital (today’s Xi’an city, Shaanxi Province). Later as its capital fell into the hands of the minority invaders, the Western Zhou had to move its capital eastward to today’s Luoyang city, Henan Province, hence called the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. From the Western Zhou to the Eastern Zhou Dynasties, they altogether existed about 800 years. The Eastern Zhou was later divided by historians into distinct periods: the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). During the Spring and Autumn Period, China was split into many small rival vassal states. By the time of the Warring States Period, these small states coalesced into seven powerful bigger states. By way of reforms, these seven states developed into the feudal society, which paved the way for the later unification of China under the Qin Dynasty.
When the ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Indian civilizations were progressing, the ancient Chinese civilization in the Xia, Shang and Western Zhou dynasties was already in full bloom. When the Greek and Roman city-states were in their heyday, the thought and culture of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods were flourishing in ancient China. With a broad view of the ancient world civilization, one may find that the two stars of civilization-one in the East, the other in the West-were shining at the same time. This gradually developed into two centers of world civilization.
1. The Earliest Human Beings in China
2. Yuanmou Man: dated back to some 1,700,000 years ago, the earliest human beings ever found in China so far;
3. Lantian Man: dated back to about 1,000,000 and 500,000 years ago, was able to walk upright on 2 feet;
4. Peking Man: dated back to 700,000 and 200,000 years ago, skilled at making fire, making and using stone tools);
5. Dali Man: dated back to about 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, representative of the transition from apes to ancient man;
6. Upper Cave Man: dated back to about 18 000 years ago, resembled modern human beings in appearance;
The Earliest Human Beings in China
China is not only a country with a long history of ancient civilization but also one of the birthplaces of the human race throughout the world. China ranks first in the number of human fossils and cultural sites dating from the Paleolithic Period, among which Yuanmou Man, Lantian Man, Peking Man and Upper Cave Man are the most important.
In December 1987, the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian where Peking Man’s skulls were found was added to the World Cultural Heritage List by the UNESCO.
The Paleolithic Period
This period is so named by the stone vessels they used-primitive men used stones to make chipped stone vessels. The Paleolithic Period lasted for two to three million years. People then lived life by picking up wild fruits, hunting and fishing together.
The Neolithic Period
Starting from around 8,000 to 9,000 years ago, primitive people already used new kinds of stone artifacts-artifacts that were ground out rather than chipped, hence the period termed “Neolithic Period.” The new stone artifacts were more sophisticated and handier, greatly improving the level of production and life alike. It was during the Neolithic Period that agriculture and animal husbandry appeared.
The Great Myth of the Creation of Man in Ancient China
Where were the Chinese ancestors from? Legend has it that a long, long time ago, Heaven and Earth were a chaotic gathering of air masses, just like an egg. A man named Pangu axed the Heaven off from the Earth with a huge axe. Standing right in between the Heaven and the Earth, hands holding out the sky, feet stamping on the ground, he grew taller and taller. Hence the sky became higher and higher while the ground became lower and lower.
This lasted for 18 000 years. As a result, the Heaven and the Earth have finally driven away from each other to a vast distance of 90 000 li and Pangu became a giant with his head holding up the heaven and his feet stamping on the ground. After his death, his eyes grew the Sun and the Moon, his four limbs, the mountains, blood, rivers, lakes and seas, his sinews, the field, his arteries, the roads and ways, his hairs and moustaches, the stars in the sky, his skin and body hairs, flowers, grass and woods, his teeth and bones, the shining metals, hard stones, glittering pearls and precious stones, his sweats, the dews. What is miraculous is that many of the small insects on his body became human beings. This is the legend of Pangu creating the new Heaven and the Earth. This myth has been passed from generation to generation until our time in China.
Besides Pangu’s myth, many more myths were created by our Chinese ancestors by their imagination. For instance, the legend of Youchaoshi who taught people how to make houses on the branches of trees; Suirenshi who taught people how to make fire with wood out of chiseling; Fuxishi who taught people to hunt and invented Eight Trigrams (eight combinations of three whole or broken lines formerly used in divination); Shennongshi who grew foods and looked for medicine herbs by tasting more than a hundred kinds of herbs and grasses. All of them are the embodiment of the wisdom of our ancient conscientious Chinese people, the epitome of the invincible Chinese people who transformed and conquered nature.
Ancestors of Chinese Nation
Chinese people often refer to themselves as the descendants of Yandi and Huangdi. This applies to the legendary heroes Yandi and Huangdi. Over 4 000 years ago, there lived many clans and tribes in the Yellow River Valley. Among them were the two most prominent tribes led by Huangdi and Yandi.
To the east of the Yellow River valley was the territory of the Jiuli tribe, with Chiyou as its chieftain. It is said that the Jiuli people had all kinds of weapons and were a warlike group.
Legend has it that the Jiuli attacked Yandi’s tribe for more extensive territory. The latter was defeated and turned to Huangdi for help. Huangdi allied himself with Yandi and defeated Chiyou at a place called Zhuolu (in today’s Hebei Province). During the battle, a dense mist descended, and all was in confusion. However, on his chariot, Huangdi had an instrument which always pointed south.
In this way, he rallied the allied forces. Finally, Chiyou was captured and killed.
After the Battle of Zhuolu, conflicts arose between the tribes of Huangdi and Yandi for control of all the tribes. At last, Huangdi prevailed and ruled over all the tribes of the Central Plains. Eventually, they merged their languages, customs, and production and living habits, to form the Huaxia people.
The Huaxia people were the predecessors of the Han people and the principal part of the Chinese nation. The Huaxia people regarded Huangdi and Yandi as their ancestors and called themselves the descendants of Yandi and Huangdi.
The “Three Kings & Five Emperors”
The “three kings” referred to Suiren, Fuxi, and Shennong, legendary kings in ancient China. The “five emperors” were legendary emperors of ancient China, later than the “three kings,” namely, Huangdi, Zhuanxu, Diku, Yao, and Shun.
Yu the Great Harnesses the Flood
It is said that after Emperor Huangdi there appeared three famous tribal leaders: Yao, Shun, and Yu. According to legend, the Yellow River flooded during the reign of Emperor Yao, and the people were forced to abandon their villages and went to quit on trees or on mountaintops. The flood brought great misery to the people. Emperor Yao, the chieftain of the Yan-Huang tribal alliance, appointed Gun to harness the flood. Gun built dikes to keep back the water but failed. Shun, who succeeded Yao, killed Gun and appointed Gun’s son Yu to continue with the flood-harnessing work. Yu adopted the dredging method to lead the flood waters to flow along river courses into the sea. Yu worked very hard. It was said that during the 13 years he spent on taming the floods, he passed his home three times, but did not enter until his task was completed. As a result of his successful efforts, the people bestowed on him the title Yu the Great and Shun chose Yu as his successor, with the approval of the tribal chieftains.
Following the taming of the floods, vegetation and wild beasts grew rampant, threatening the survival of the people. Yu taught his subjects the art of agriculture, and thus how to dominate the land and feed themselves in a regular and organized way. He also repelled invasions by the Miao tribe and consolidated the Huaxia people’s supremacy in the Central Plains.
Around 2070 BC, Yu established the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty in Chinese history. After Yu’s death, his son Qi succeeded to the throne. Crushing an attempt to overthrow him by the Youhu clan, Qi established the system of hereditary rulers instead of abdicating the throne to another person.
The Xia Dynasty lasted 471 years with 17 empires from Yu to Jie. The calendar of Xia fit well for the agricultural production, so it was used for a long time. They also cast bronze cooking vessels (ding) by imitating the image of animals. Thus China shifted from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. Its last king, Jie, vilified in the ancient records as a tyrant, was overthrown by the leader of the Shang kingdom along the lower reaches of the Yellow River in about 1600 BC.
Abdicating and Handing over of the Throne
In ancient China, power was passed on to the next generation by means of abdication by the ruler of the alliance of tribes. According to legend, when Yao was in power, Shun, chosen by other tribal chieftains, and examined by Yao, was acknowledged as an able man. So Yao abdicated and handed over the throne to Shun.
King Wu Attacks King Zhou
The Shang was an ancient tribe along the lower reaches of the Yellow River. It is believed that the Shang’s ancestry can be traced back to Qi, whose mother gave birth to him after swallowing an egg of a swallow. The Shang’s tribe in its early period often moved about: its capital had been changed five times during its reign of 300 years. After Emperor Pangeng chose Yin (in the northwest part of today’s Anyang, Henan Province) as its capital, the Shang Dynasty experienced a period of prosperity. During Wuding’s 50 years rule, the Shang Dynasty reached its heyday.
The last monarch of the Shang Dynasty, King Zhou, is said to have been a cruel despot who neglected state affairs and abandoned himself to sensual pleasures. Rare birds and animals dedicated to him were raised, flat platforms were built for storing numerous amount of money and valuables, the wine poured into the pool and meat was hung up on the trees. As a ruthless king, he invented various kinds of instruments of torture to punish his opponents. “The punishment of Pao Luo” (torture with hot pillar) was one of them. The bronze pillar covered with ointment was heated on the burning fire of charcoal. His prisoners were forced to walk on the pillar. They fell down and burned to death.
King Zhou’s tyranny and atrocities accelerated the speed and downfall of the Shang Dynasty. A vassal kingdom of the Shang Dynasty called Zhou was growing powerful in the Weishui River Valley. The king of Zhou, named Wen, was an able and enlightened administrator who valued agriculture and made good use of talented people. Assisted by his able prime minister Jiang Taigong, King Wen and his son King Wu made his realm rich and powerful.
In the mid-11th century BC, the new ruler, King Wu, led an alliance of the western and southern tribes, toppled the tottering Shang Dynasty by defeating King Zhou at the Battle of Muye (in today’s Henan Province). The victory was aided by a revolt in the Shang army, which consisted mostly of conscripted slaves. Seething with hatred, they led the Zhou army into the capital instead of fighting back. King Zhou burnt himself to death, and his throne was taken by King Wu. Supported by small states and tribes, King Wu founded the Zhou Dynasty in 1046 BC and located his capital in Hao (in the southwest of today’s Xi’an, Shaanxi Province). This era is known as that of the Western Zhou Dynasty.
Jiang Taigong Has His Own Way of Fishing
Jiang Taigong was surnamed Jiang, and his given name was Shang. He styled himself Ziya but was also called “Taigong Wang.” According to the legend, he used to sit by the Weishui River at a spot where King Wen often passed by, holding a fishing rod high above the water. His fishhook was straight with no bait on it. He would say “Those who are willing, please rise to the hook.” One day King Wen passed by and invited him to help administer the country. Today the phrase “Jiang Taigong has his own way of fishing” has got a new meaning: someone does something of his own accord.
Duke Zhou’s Conquest of the East
Although the Shang Dynasty was overthrown by King Wu, the remaining forces of King Zhou were determined to be loyal to the old king. King Wu and Duke Zhou formulated a policy that made good use of the Yin to conquer itself. They put Wugeng, the son of King Zhou, as the Duke of Yin. And they ordered him to continue to rule the vicinity of the original Yin. In order to control Wugeng and place the people from the former Shang Dynasty under surveillance, King Wu sent his brothers Guan, Tsai and Huo as “three supervisors” to Yin. They led some Zhou people to live in the surrounding areas of Yin.
After two years, King Wu died of illness. Before his death, King Wu entrusted his son (named Song) and the state to his brother, Duke Zhou (named Jidan). His son came to the throne as King Cheng. As King Cheng was too young as a 13-year-old boy to handle the affairs of state, Duke Zhou exercised authority for him. This aroused the grievance of Guan and Tsai. They spread rumors that Duke Zhou intended to usurp the throne. The remnant forces of King Zhou, colluding with Guan and Tsai, launched a rebellion. Their strengths extended far over to today’s Hebei, Henan, Shandong and Anhui provinces. The new-born Zhou Dynasty was in a crisis.
Facing this unfavorable situation, Duke Zhou sincerely explained the truth to Duke Zhao the other dukes as well, to get rid of their suspicion so as to keep the internal unity of the royal family. On the other hand, he assembled dukes from all the states and led the army himself to the east to conquer the rebels. After three years, Wugeng, Guan and their followers were killed, Tsai was banished. Some small states involved in the rebellion were suppressed.
Brilliant Bronze Civilization
The manufacture of bronze wares reached its zenith during the Shang Dynasty and the Western Zhou Dynasty. The Simuwu square ding cauldron, made in the late Shang Dynasty, with 1.33 meters high, 1.1 meters long, 0.78 meters wide and 875 kilograms in weight, is a most significant item of bronze ware existing in the world. A Zun wine vessel with the heads of four goats carved on it, also dating from the Shang Dynasty was grandly shaped with artistic craftsmanship, and it is one of the most beautiful examples of bronze ware known.
King Goujian of Yue Underwent Self-imposed Hardships to Wipe out a National Humiliation
In 494 BC, defeated by the King of Wu, Goujian was forced to make a humiliating surrender to the King of Wu by relegating himself to become a servant. After two years’ extreme servility, Goujian was finally released to his homeland. Determined to avenge himself, he removed the mat from his bed and rested on the rough brushwood. Each time before eating his meal he must have a taste of the gallbladder, and remind himself of his past by keeping asking the question “Would you ever forget the shame of Kuaiji?” He never forgot the suffering of the state for a moment. He led the Yue people to work hard so as to make their state stronger. Finally, he overthrew the Wu and accomplished his ambition for revenge. Later, people often use the phrase “sleep on brushwood and taste gall” (undergo self-imposed hardships) to express one’s determination to make significant progress in the future in order to get all his sufferings rewarded.
The Five hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period
In the early Spring and Autumn X Period (770-476 BC) the Zhou Kingdom was divided into over 100 vassal states, all squabbling over land and population. Strong states annexed weak ones and contended for hegemony over all the others. During this period, Duke Huan of Qi, Duke Xiang of Song, Duke Wen of Jin, Duke Mu of Qin and King Zhuang of Chu became the hegemons in succession and were called the Five Powers of the Spring and Autumn Period. Some historians rank the five powers as Duke Huan of Qi, Duke Wen of Jin, King Zhuang of Chu, King Helu of Wu and King Goujian of Yue.
Qi was a wealthy state in the eastern part of China. With the aid of the able statesman Guan Zhong, Duke Huan of Qi carried out a series of political and economic reforms, which helped the state to flourish and significantly enhanced its military power. Duke Huan defeated ethnic tribes such as Shanrong and led the armies of Qi, Lu and Song to suppress the State of the Chu in the Central Plains. All of this gave Duke Huan high prestige. In 651 BC, Duke Huan convened a meeting of the rulers of all the states, at which envoys from the Son of Heaven of Zhou (the Son of Heaven was the titular sovereign, having little real power) were present. A treaty of alliance was concluded, and the period of Qi hegemony commenced.
Following Duke Huan of Qi, Duke Xiang of Song tried to take his place but failed in the end. Duke Wen of Jin made his state a significant power in the north, and the State of Chu also had ambitions to be a hegemon. In 632 BC, the State of Jin defeated the State of Chu to rule the rest in the Central Plains. However, the fight for hegemony went on between the two states for 100 years, until King Zhuang of Chu smashed the Jin army and made himself the hegemon. In the meantime, Duke Mu of Qin was expanding his territory to the west after the failure of expansion to the east and made himself a hegemon.
The States of Wu and Yue were both located in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. They were not large, but they joined the war for hegemony. When the states of Chu and Jin made war for power, the State of Wu captured the capital of the State of Chu with the support of Jin. Later, the two countries conducted several wars, each having its own victories. In 494 BC, the King of Wu defeated the King of Yue, the State of Yue came under the state of Wu’s dominion. After 10 years of painstaking preparation, King Goujian of Yue finally destroyed the State of Wu. Later, he led his soldiers to the north, and he became the last hegemon of die Spring and Autumn Period.
During this period in Greece, city-states appeared. The essential difference between the city-states and the states in the Spring and Autumn Period is that politics were more fully developed in the former one, with a gradual decline of monarchical power. The overwhelming majority of city-states abandoned the monarchy and implemented direct rule by the people, and limited the ability of the aristocracy. Some city-states even overthrew the aristocratic government and founded the most developed democracy of the ancient world.
Shang Yang Erects Wood Pillar at the Southern Gate
In 356 BC, in order to make the Qin strong and sturdy, Duke Xiao of Qin appointed Shang Yang to initiate new policies. Shang Yang drafted a new reform plan, but he was afraid that people would not accept him and the dean. He had a long wood pillar placed near the southern gate of the capital of Qin and announced that he would give 10 pieces of gold to anyone who carried the log to the northern entrances. A lot of people just took the offer as a joke. When nobody took up the record, Shang Yang raised the reward to 50 pieces of gold. Finally, a man shouldered the trunk and carried it to the northern gate. Shang Yang was as good as his word and handed over 50 gold pieces to the man. This made a great stir in the whole state. And in this way, Shang Yang built up his prestige in people’s minds which contributed much to the final success of his reforms. As a result of his successful efforts, the reforms made Qin the most powerful state in the late Warring States Period.
The Seven Powers of the Warring States Period
The number of states was JL significantly reduced by the numerous wars. By the time of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), only seven vassal states remained. The rest of the states were absorbed by the Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin. These seven states were called the Seven Powers of the Warring States Period.
In the early Warring States Period, the Han, Zhao, and Wei formed an alliance, and defeated the Qi, Qin and Chu, separately. Later the alliance broke up, while Qi and Qin gradually gained in strength.
In the mid-Warring States Period, the army of Wei attacked Zhao. Zhao asked the State of Qi for help. Seeing that the picked troops of Wei were in the State of Zhao and there was no army force inside Wei, the great military strategist Sun Bin led the Qi army against the Wei capital. Alarmed at the threat to their own lightly-defended state, the Wei troops, who had already occupied the Zhao capital, withdrew, and Zhao was saved. On their way back to Wei, the Wei forces were ambushed by the Qi army and were crushingly defeated. This was a famous battle in Chinese history, and gave rise to the saying “besieging Wei and saving Zhao.”
Eleven years later, Wei launched an attack against the State of Han. The Qi army, again under the command of Sun Bin, took the strategy of besieging Wei to save Han. The Qi army pretended to retreat. On the first day they left behind enough campfire sites to cook food for 100 000 soldiers, the second day enough for 50 000 soldiers, and the third day only enough for 30 000 soldiers. The Wei commander speculated that the Qi soldiers were deserting in great numbers. He chose an elite troop to chase the Qi army to Maling (in today’s Henan Province). When the Wei forces caught up with what they thought was a small force of the Qi army, they were ambushed and defeated by the full strength of the Qi troops. This is the famous War of Maling. After these two victories, Qi later replaced Wei as the hegemon of the Central Plains.
In the late Warring States Period, Qin became stronger and stronger. The other six states allied against the growing power in the west, but Qin cleverly sowed discord among them, and they could never form a united front against it. Qin vanquished the other states one by one, abolished the Zhou’s ruling, and united China under the Qin Dynasty.
Confucius, the Great Educator
Confucius is one of the 10 internationally recognized thinkers, and his thoughts have had a wide-ranging influence in China and East Asia.
Confucius (551-479 BC) was surnamed Kong, and his given name was Qiu. He styled himself Zhongni. He was born in Zouyi in the State of Lu (in the southeast of today’s Qufu, Shandong Province) in the late Spring and Autumn Period. He was the founder of Confucianism.
He put forward the ideology of benevolence (ren) on the part of rulers toward their people, stressing that the political rule should be based on virtue, not on force. He was against exploitation of the oppressed people. Additionally, he advocated the rule of the people by morality, not by tyranny.
Confucius was also a great educator. In his time, only children from aristocratic families could receive an education. Confucius advocated that everyone was equal in education. He taught his disciples without discrimination, no matter what their social status was. Confucius established private schools and broke the government’s monopoly over education. It is said that Confucius taught as many as 3 000 disciples, among whom 72 became very famous. Confucius proposed teaching students according to their aptitude. He said one should be honest in learning and not pretend to know what one did not know. He told his pupils to review what they had regularly learned during their study because new knowledge can be gained by reviewing old knowledge. lie also told his disciples to combine study with thinking.
The disciples of Confucius recorded his words and deeds in the Analects of Confucius, which is one of the classics of the Confucian school. Confucius’s theories formed the Orthodox ruling ideology in China for over 2 000 years.
The Six Classics
The Six Classics are six ancient works considered central to the Confucian canon, namely, The Book of Changes, The Book of Songs, The Book of Rites, The Book of Music, The Book of History and The Spring and Autumn Annals. These works are said to have been compiled and edited by Confucius himself. They are immortal contributions Confucius made to the development of ancient Chinese culture.
The “Hundred Schools of Thought” and Their Exponents
Great social changes took place during the Spring-Autumn and the Warring States periods. This spurred great cultural development. In these periods, there appeared many great thinkers, such as Laozi, Zhuangzi, Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, Mozi, and Hanfeizi. They stated their views on society from different standpoints and angles, and gradually formed schools of philosophy represented mainly by the Taoist, Confucianist, Mohist and Legalist schools. These numerous schools and their representatives came to be known as the “Hundred Schools of Thought and their exponents.”
Laozi was the founder of the Taoist School and wrote Tao Te Ching (The Classic of the Way and Virtue). He deemed that all things have their opposites; for example, fortune and misfortune, existence and non-existence, life and death, nobility and baseness, high and low, strong and weak are all pairs of different aspects of unity and can be transformed into each other. Zhuang Zhou is another famous figure of the Taoist School, and he is also called Zhuangzi. In his book (titled The Book of Zhuangzi) there are many exciting stories. Using these stories, Zhuangzi expressed his love of nature.
Mozi initiated the Mohist School. He encouraged frugality and combated waste. He advocated choosing noble-minded and talented people to be officials to govern the people. And he called on people to love each other and eschew war.
The most important representative of the Legalist School was Hanfeizi, who wrote The Book of Hanfeizi. He advocated ruling the country by means of strictly enforced laws. He deemed that the law should be promulgated to the whole state and the people should abide by the law in a very strict way. He emphasized the use of severe punishment for rebellious people. He advocated reforms and was in favor of a centralized autocratic monarchy. His theories were later adopted by Emperor Qinshihuang, China’s first unifier.
The Art of War-The World First Treatise on Military Science
The Art of War is the earliest work of military science existing in the world. Its author, Sun Wu (whose respected name was Sunzi), was an outstanding strategist in the late Spring and Autumn Period. Sun Wu was born in the State of Qi, later moving to the State of Wu. The endemic wars between the various states at that time caused Sun Wu to think deeply about military strategy through a lot of effort. He wrote The Art of War and presented it to the ruler of Wu, who put him in command of his army. He imposed strict discipline on the army, and he was very conscientious in training troops. In consequence, Wu soon became a major military power in the Spring and Autumn Period.
The Art of War consists of 13 chapters, amounting to some 6 000 characters. In this limited space, Sun Wu expounds his wide-ranging views on war. He emphasizes the importance of knowing yourself and knowing your enemy, attacking the enemy unexpectedly, and concentrating a superior force to defeat the enemy thoroughly. Sun Wu especially stressed the importance of using war only as a last resort, because the war was a grievous burden on the people. Some 100 years later, during the Warring States Period, Sun Bin, an offspring of Su Wu, inherited and developed Sun Wu’s military theory, and wrote Sun Bins Art of War.
The Art of War has been translated into English, French, Japanese, German, Russian, Czech and other languages. Because it is deemed applicable to many areas, not just war, it enjoys high international prestige.
The 36 Stratagems
In The Art of War, Sun Wu lists 36 stratagems to teach people the rules of war. He recommends the use of spies, which is widely used by today’s people. Of the Art of War the most famous is when you are hopeless of victory, the best strategy is to run away. “Of the 36 stratagems, running away is thought the best” was already used as a set phrase in China.