Chinese of an era known as the Shang

Chinese Spring & AutumnPeriod (Shang and Zhou Dynasties): Significance of Sun Tzu & His Book “TheArt of War” Today, the People’s Republic of Chinahas become one of the most successful and innovated countries in the world, however,ancient China is much different from whatwe know to be the modern day China. Before becoming one massive country, Chinawas divided into various kingdoms between two very significant rivers, theYangtze, and Yellow rivers. Today,historians conclude that they have been able to discover proofs about theChinese dynasties to as early as 1700 B.C. Artifacts, bronze weapons, and written records show the successes of anera known as the Shang and Zhou dynasty.

The Shang Dynasty, known to be thelongest dynasty in the history of China, was ruled by 31 Emperors and Kings.Every king was portrayed as more than just a ceremonial official, but rather areligious icon, they served as a connection between their people and to thespirit world.  The people created the idea of the mandate of heaven whichwould also be adopted by many following dynasties. The mandate of heavenexplains that the heavens give the power to the kings to keep successful ruleover the society if it is done in the wayof pleasing the gods and protecting the interests of the nation and its people.This Dynasty was largely agricultural, most of the population had participatedin farming, people often were called upon to participate in wars or to constructlarge-scale projects. This meant that landlords were very influential, however, to avoid any conflicts of interestsamong the landlords with the government, the king himself appointed onlyfamily or close relatives to govern such lands.

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ThisDynasty had many contributions to Chinese innovation, but three, define this dynasty:the introduction of bronze technology, thedevelopment of a hierarchy government, and the development of writing, Tobegin, This Dynasty existed during China’s bronze age, throughout this time, bronzesignified authority and capital. Only individuals with any influence within thekingdom had access to bronze.  The Shang perfected the skill of designing,forging, and mastered complicated practicesthat involved creating specialized weaponry and vessels, the innovation of bronze technology and the manufactureof bronze weapons provided the Shang forces a prestigiousadvantage over their adversaries and entirely changed the methods of warfare.They had also designed a newly-sophisticatedweapon, the horse-drawn chariots. Chariots enabled superiors to oversee theirtroops across great distances and made them mobile. Secondly, the Shang political system was prearranged into ahierarchy system, meaning that it had many levels of jobs and social class. Theinvention of writing had a profound effect on the Shang government and its capabilityto rule. It amplified the government’s ability to organize on a substantiallevel, whether it be organizing the mining of large quantities of bronze,construct city walls, or to wage large military campaigns.

Lastly,Historians have demonstrated that this Dynastyhas already developed the principles ofmodern writing techniques. In fact, Chinese literature has undergone relativelylimited amounts of change since it was first developed. Documents were initiallynoted on strips of silk and bamboo that have since been decomposed.   After numerous years of ruling, the Shangdynasty was overthrown by an influential power known as the Zhou dynasty.

TheZhou Dynasty incorporated the same system of the previous dynasty, however, changes were made. It continued topractice the Shang’s scheme of dividing the kingdom into sub-states.  Butif the gods were dissatisfied with the king, the mandate would be taken awayfrom him, thus having him overthrown and replaced by a new ruler. The conceptof the mandate had definitively become the structure of Chinese tradition. The Zhou hadconstructed numerous laws for its societyto keep a strong government. This enabled them to begin agricultural productionand to incorporate the use of iron.

Over time,the Zhou Dynasty became corrupt and avaricious. Governs and Landlords were appointed, and not elected, all of which were only relativesor loyal friends of the state, to minimize any suggestion of a rebellion.However, taxes had been drastically increased. During this time, large factionsbegan to speak up and exhibited rebellions.

  The declineof the Zhou dynasty had commenced, as the power of the central government beganto weaken, and conflicts between different principalities began to escalate dueto the influx of rising taxes andcorruption. Many principalities had believedthat the king was no longer competent, this created many rebellions. Due to the increase of wars, many military commanders had gained much influence, especiallythe most renown, Sun Tzu. He is known as a philosopher, military tactician, and military commander in the 6th century, he is commonly recognized for his workof the book “TheArt of War”, a 2,500-year-oldbook on military strategy. To this day, mostof his teachings are still applicable. The 13-chapter book is regarded as oneof the finest documentation of ancient militarystrategy.  The book mainly deals with theobjective of winning battles with minimum conflict, effort, losses and maximumoperational efficiency.

The book has become a handbook for military leadership.The solid qualities of a leader determine the success achieved on thebattlefield, whereas his weaknesses will lead his army to defeat. This very statement is relevant in conferring the roleof military leaders in today’s modern-day conflicts. The book emphasizeson three major traits/qualities of an effective leader: sternness, trust, and intelligence.Sternness,in order to succeed in the mission/objective,superiors must be strict. They must be willing to do what others may hesitate todo, it is vital for a superior to discipline those who do not obey an order. Afamous example was when Sun Tzu had ordered a group of women to perform asimple drill, however, when he ordered them to perform the drill, the womenburst out into laughter, he then ordered thatthose two individuals be beheaded as anexample for the rest of the army.

“If words of command are not clear and distinct, andif orders are not thoroughly understood, then the General is to blame. But, iforders are clear and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault oftheir officers.” ? Sun TzuTrust, if a leader fails, tobe honest, he may lose the respect ofthose who he leads and the overall mission integrity is put at great risk.

A leader must develop mutualtrust among his troops, Tzu emphasized the importance of rewards andpunishments, to avoid discouraging troops ofservice.”If troops are punished before their loyalty is secured they will be disobedient. Ifnot obedient, it is difficult to employthem.

If troops are loyal, but punishments are not enforced, you cannot employthem”Intelligence, the abilityto collect and effectively use the information against the enemy to youradvantage, is a significant characteristic ofa General. A General must also be able to comprehend the information, thespymaster is required to control the spy. The general must use spies, but shouldnever reveal their identity to each other, mainly to maintain the structural integrity of the intelligence network. Sun Tzu organizes hisintelligence sources into five categories: Local Spies: Recruitedfrom the general population of the enemy state. Internal Spies: Corrupt officialsfrom the government of the enemy state (the ambitious, miserable, suppressed, punished and the reckless). Reverse Spies (Double Agents): They areenemy agents who have been turned (with bribes and promises), and they now spyagainst their former master or send back false information.  Dead Spies (Counter Intelligence): They are agents who spreadunactionable intelligence to enemy agents to manipulatethem (doing strategic planning openly for the purpose of deception and allowingfriendly spies to know of the identities of the enemy spies) and having themexecuted.

 Surviving Spies: Spies whoreturn with actionable intelligence fromthe enemy’s camp, and operate effectivelyin enemy territory and behind enemy lines.  “The SupremeArt of War is to subdue the enemy without fighting” – Sun Tzu In conclusion, The Shang and Zhou Dynastiescreated a time of warfare and corruption,however, it was the longest and most successful of its time. The conflicts that hadled up to “The Art of War” has considerably influenced modern day warfare. Ever since The Art of War waspublished, military leaders have been following its advice, executives andlawyers use the teachings of “The Art of War” to get the advantage innegotiations. The Art of Warpresents the basic principles of warfare. Its 13 chapters offer specific battlestrategies, but they also offer moregeneral advice about conflicts and their solutions, this 2,500-year-old book still resonates with a21st-century audience and still influences our actions to this day.

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