Jump to the main content block
Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


A Study on the Concepts of Loyalty and Trustworthiness (zhongxin) in Early Chinese Political Thought

Vol. 37 No. 1   6/2007    


A Study on the Concepts of Loyalty and Trustworthiness (zhongxin) in Early Chinese Political Thought


Masayuki Sato









Key words

zhong (loyalty), xin (trust), zhongxi, early Chinese political thought


     This article aims to shed new light on the inquiry into the role and the significance of the concept of loyalty (zhong ) and trustworthiness (xin) in early Chinese political thought by analyzing their usages in Warring States Bronze inscriptions and the Guodian Chu bamboo text, and also in the early Chinese literal texts such as the Guoyu and the Zuozhuan.

    Previously, scholars considered that the original meaning of the concept of zhong meant “sincerity" and that it was used in small communal relationship such as between friends; also, it has been assumed that this concept was used in the development of Chinese state and bureaucratic system and that its main meaning has been changed into "loyalty toward ruler." The author attempts to show that the term zhongxin from its early use (i.e., during the Spring and Autumn period) contained the meaning of loyalty, and that the content of sincerity represented its later conceptual development (i,e., from the late Spring and Autumn period and later). Yet, in its early use, the objective of loyalty did not point to any individuals but instead to the state to which an individual belonged. The thinkers and political figures before the mid-Warring States period even argued that the possession of zhongxin was imperative for any state to survive. This implies that the concept of zhongxin was probably one of the most important values in early Chinese political thought, even before other main ethical and social ideas were proposed by the Confucians of Warring States.



Author: Masayuki Sato
Genre: Article
Click Num: