military, intelligence, security & foreign policy
military, intelligence, security & foreign policy

Tale of two kingdoms (Xue and Wen)

I remember this story my brother told me some years ago:

Once upon a time in old China (probably during the Warring States period), there was two neighbouring kingdom, Xue and Wen.

The king of Xue wanted to annex Wen into his kingdom, however Wen have more people and troops than Xue. He cannot confront Wen head to head in that unbalanced military capacity, so he turned to his cabinet for an advice.

After thinking for some time, on of his minister said he had an idea. The minister asked the king of Xue to make all of his people to wear only the clothes made of Ti fabric, a kind of silk, and outlaw the use of other fabric. Soon the demand for the Ti fabric soars, and the price was increasing day after day.


Now the Wen people saw this opportunity of getting huge cash and began producing the Ti silk massively to the extent that they even focused most of their resource into producing Ti silk. The people are encouraged to work in Ti production. Even the paddy field are converted into field planted with plants for the silk worms.


Now the Xue people produces rice for the Wen people, because the Wens are not producing enough rice for themselves. When the winter came, the king of Xue changed his order : now he outlaws the Ti silk for his people.


In one night, the price of Ti falls. Now the people of Wen have an worthless enormous stock of Ti silk and nothing to eat. The king of Xue forbids his people to sell the rice to Wen. The king of Wen tried to buy rice from other kingdom for the people of Wen, but the snow is blocking the route so the rice can not be delivered.


Before long, panic struck the kingdom of Wen. Chaos spread all across the kingdom as the hungry people kill each other for food.The superior number of troops and people, which was Wen’s asset, now became liabilities.


Now come the final blow : the troops of Xue attacked the kingdom of Wen. The Xues offers food to Wen troops who defects. The Wen military, severely weakened by the lack of food and insubordination within its ranks, cannot resist the Xues. Starved Wen soldiers soon surrendered, and those who are not are too weak to put up a fight. Within a short time and little casualties, the kingdom of Wen falls to Xue.


Moral of the story:

1. Artificial needs cannot beat the natural needs. The need for the Ti fabric was artificial, however, the need for food is essential. So converting assets that fulfill our natural need into something to fulfill an artificial need is a dumb thing to do.

2.In this global era, where every country in increasingly inter-dependent with others, is exactly time when every country should value self reliance. Can our country produces essential things for its survival?  Does our country have  enough capacity, skill, raw materials for that purpose?

3. Good timing.


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