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History of Zhengzhou: Zichan And The Legend of The Jinshui River

Popularity 2Viewed 2575 times 2015-1-2 14:35 |Personal category:History|System category:News

Gongsun Qiao (Chinese: 公孫僑; died 522 BC), better known by Zichan (Chinese: 子產), was a statesman of the State of Zheng during the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. His ancestral surname was Ji (姬), and clan name Guo (國). A grandson of Duke Mu of Zheng, Zichan served as prime minister of Zheng from 544 BC until his death. Under Zichan, Zheng managed to expand its territory, a difficult task for a small state surrounded by several large states. He was also known as a great philosopher.

Zichan was responsible for many reforms that strengthened the state of Zheng. A realist, Zichan was heavily involved in all aspects of the state, reforming agricultural and commercial laws, setting the borders, centralizing the state, ensuring the hiring of capable ministers, and changing social norms. Zichan once prevented other ministers from executing a man for criticizing the government, arguing that it was in the best interests of the state to listen to the opinions of the common people.

Zichan reformed the government to emphasize the rule of law. In 543 BC, he had the state's code of law cast in a bronze ding, a first among the Zhou states. He also enacted harsh punishments for criminals. Because of his focus on laws, historians often classify him as a legalist.

Zichan was also highly skilled in state-to-state politics. When the State of Jin tried to interfere in Zheng's internal affairs after the death of a Zheng minister, Zichan was well aware of the danger, arguing that if Jin was allowed to determine the successor of the deceased minister in the state of Zheng, Zheng would then have lost its sovereignty to Jin. He then proceeded to convince Jin not to interfere in Zheng's internal politics.

The Legend of the Jinshui River

When Zichan died, legend has it that he had used all of his personal assets to help the people of the area. His son was left with the task of burying his father, but, he had no money in which to buy a plot of ground nor to give him a proper funeral. The people loved Zichan so much that, in their mourning, they brought silver, jewelry, gold and other valuables to give to the son in order to honor this great man whom the people loved. His son, however, refused their gifts and said that his father would never receive charity for himself. So, as a tribute to Zichan, they threw the valuables in the river near Xinmi City, just to the south of Zhengzhou. When the sunlight shone down upon the water with the gold, silver, jewelry and other valuables, the water seemed to become as gold. Thus it was given the name, 'Gold Water' of 'Golden Waters' river.


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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MichaelM

Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.

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