Since the capital had been moved eastward from Hao to Luoyang in 770 BC, the Zhou gradually lost control over the zhuhou – rulers of feudal states. During the Spring & Autumn and the Warring States eras, the states contended for hegemony for more than five hundred years. Until the ruler of the strongest state, Qin finally conquered the other six states before capturing Luoyang, thereby ending the Zhou dynasty in 221 BC. The Zhou dynasty had reigned over China for 800 years. (Think about the sagacity of King Wen, his strategist, Jiang Ziya – Taigong, and his son, Zhougong Dan.)
King Zheng of Qin spent twenty over years to conquer and annexed the other states. On the advice of his Prime Minister Li Si, he ended the divisive feudal system practiced by the Zhou. King Zheng became the first emperor of Qin. He had the country’s 120,000 richest families move to the capital, Xianyang to prevent any rebellion.
To prevent foreign barbarians from invading, the emperor sent a million prisoners and conscripted laborers to build the Great Wall along the northern border. He also ordered 700,000 prisoners to build the Afang Palace and the Lishan Tomb. Suffering under the heavy conscripted labor and taxation, the common people hated the Emperor of Qin. The Qin Dynasty did not last long. It collapsed within 14 years.
How often need the ancients advise : Rule the people with benevolence (Ren) and righteousness/justice (Yi)
When a ruler loses touch with the masses because of his arrogance and inhumanity, Heaven will withdraw its Mandate. The Daoists may call it ‘cause and effect’ and the Buddhists may name it ‘Karma’.
The same applied to Hsiang Yu, the Overlord of China, after he gave the order to massacre 200,000 Qin soldiers who had surrendered to Chu. He also ordered the killing of his appointed rulers of weaker states.
How could Heaven forgive someone who kill or abet to kill innocents and allow him to hold the Mandate? Where would be the justice? As we are aware, the Mandate of Heaven was given to Liu Pang of Han, the weaker of the two contenders, instead.
Things we can learn from history.