Emperor Kangxi Was a Wise Ruler and a Paragon of Benevolence (1 of 3)
Aixin-Juelo Xuanye, whose title during his reign was Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722 AD), acceded to the Qing Dynasty imperial throne at the age of eight and ruled for 61 years. The name "Kangxi" was derived from the proverb, "Civilians living a life that is healthy, peaceful, prosperous, and abundant." Emperor Kangxi was a noble, generous, and compassionate ruler. He was determined to build a great nation. During his reign, China became the world's largest and strongest nation, with the largest population, the richest economy, and the most glorious culture. Emperor Kangxi established the "Prosperous Era of Kangxi and Qianlong" and was a wise ruler, rarely seen in the history of China.
1) With benevolence and tolerance, Emperor Kangxi united China
When Emperor Kangxi acceded to the throne, China was wrought with internal strife and suffered continued foreign invasions. People lived in misery and could not enjoy peace. At the time, China was not a unified country, and many railed against the imperial court. Grand Dowager Empress Xiao Zhuang asked Emperor Kangxi for his opinion on the nation's situation and he replied, "Those who are benevolent don't have enemies." He also said to his ministers, "The way to end a rebellion is to be forgiving, generous, and noble. We can win people's hearts through leniency. To rule a nation one needs to be tolerant." At the age of 16, Emperor Kangxi already possessed extraordinary wisdom and courage. Therefore, he was able to depose the despotic and authoritarian regent, Oboi. Then he ended the revolt of the three instigators, suppressed Taiwan, twice subdued the Dzungar Mongols, stopped the invasion of the Russians at the northern border, and unified all of China.
When three liege subjects revolted, Kangxi told them firmly that the nation's territory was inviolate. He asked these lieges to keep the nation's interests in mind and end the revolt. In return, he would grant them clemency. After he successfully crushed the rebellion, he treated everyone involved in the revolt with leniency so as to keep the losses to a minimum.
During the height of the revolt, Wu Sangui, Lord of Pingxi, offered a bribe to Wang Fuchen, the commander-in-chief of Shanxi Province. Wang dispatched troops and plotted an uprising. This brought despair to the Sichuan and Shanxi Provinces. At the time, Wang Fuchen's son, Wang Jizhen and his relatives resided at the nation's capital. The imperial ministers suggested to Emperor Kangxi to immediately arrest them for plotting a rebellion. Although Kangxi was very concerned, he sent Wang Jizhen to deliver a letter to his father. In the letter, Kangxi wrote that the imperial court realized that this rebellion was not really Wang Fuchen’s intent and hoped that everything could be resolved amiably. In return, the imperial court would grant clemency. Wang Fuchen was highly touched. Wang and his troops then paid the highest respect in the empire--they kowtowed toward the north. However, because of fear, he did not surrender.
Emperor Kangxi appointed Tu Hai as military general. Tu Hai told his soldiers, "His majesty is benevolent and righteous. His majesty is merciful and of high virtue. We need to appease the enemy first and conquer them later. Our directive is that no one may kill mercilessly." Tu Hai's troops were invincible and Wang Fuchen realized that the only course of action was to surrender. Emperor Kangxi still offered him the title of "Pacifying General" and directed him to help Tu Hai to guard and protect Central China. Wang Fuchen felt deep shame and regret for his actions. Many times, Kangxi asked Tu Hai to encourage him.
Kangxi adopted the policy of "encouraging people" in regards to governing Mongolia. One of the tribal leaders of Khalkha Mongol (Outer Mongolia), Tosheetu Khan, was responsible for internal strife, giving Galdan Khan of the Dzungar Khanate the opportunity to invade and occupy Tosheetu’s land and forcing him to move south. Facing the threat from Galdan, Emperor Kangxi arranged for a Mongolian league conference and traveled beyond The Great Wall to preside over it personally. During the conference, Kangxi reprimanded Tosheetu Khan for his aggression. Then Kangxi said, "I was supposed to punish Tosheetu Khan severely during the league conference, but I did not have the heart. Therefore, I granted him clemency and forgave his blunders in everyone's presence." Kangxi resolved strives amongst the Mongolian tribes through diplomacy, providing instruction and guidance and thus was successful in reunifying the Khalkha Mongols. Therefore, the Mongolian people surrendered voluntarily to Kangxi by "kneeling three times with the head touching the ground nine times" (an ancient ritual performed by the people showing utmost respect to the emperor). Emperor Kangxi officially accepted the Khalkha Mongols as subjects into his empire.
After Galdan was defeated, Kangxi said to his ministers, "To rule a nation, one should treat people with benevolence. One should not use coercion. Galdan is an oppressor and violent, but I treat him with tolerance and mercy. Galdan is cunning and sly, but I show him honesty and trust." The ministers and the officials pleaded with the Emperor to accept an honorific title, but Kangxi refused the mere thought of it and said, "People have experienced the wrath of war and have lived under distressing conditions. I have to attend to their needs and not accept impractical titles."
: 一代明君 仁者风范