Honor, Chinese Style (in three parts)

February 4, 2010

We were visiting General Yue Fei’s tomb in Hangzhou. Hundreds of Chinese tourists were there. It was early October 2008. This was our third trip to the city in ten years, and I was watching people spitting on the kneeling, life sized metal statues of men dead for more than eight centuries. Those metal effigies with their hands tied behind their backs had been traitors.

It may be difficult to understand what honor means to of the Chinese people if one isn’t Chinese. One way to possibly understand the importance of this concept is to examine two of China’s historical moral heroes.

General Yue Fei died on January 27, 1142. He was a famous Chinese patriot and military general who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty.

Several, jealous Song ministers lied to the emperor saying that Yue Fei was planning to kill him and take over. The emperor believed these lies and had General Yue Fei executed. When the truth came out, Yue Fei became a model for loyalty in Chinese culture. By spitting on those statues of those ministers that lied, the Chinese honor Yue Fei’s memory.

Learn about China’s Invisible White Elephants


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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