The Exchange of Hostages between Chou and Cheng (A historical event in 720 B.C.)

Tzuoo's Interpretation of Spring-Fall

    During the Chou dynasty, Emperor P'ing chose King Wu and King Chuang of Country Cheng to be the leaders of all the kings in China. However, Emperor P'ing secretly wanted the King of Country Kuo to be the leader. King Chuang suspected this and complained to the Emperor. Emperor P'ing denied this and said, "Your suspicion is baseless." Consequently, Chou and Cheng exchanged hostages to win mutual trust: The Prince of Chou was sent to Country Cheng as a hostage and the Prince of Country Cheng was sent to Chou as a hostage.

    After Emperor P'ing died, the royal family chose the King of Country Kuo as the leader of all the kings in China. In April, General C of Country Cheng led troops to take the wheat of City W in Chou's territory. During the fall, Cheng's troops again stole grain from Chou. Relations between Chou and Cheng quickly deteriorated.

    Gentlemen say, "If trust is based on insincere words, even an exchange of hostages will not enhance it." If the people deal with things in a honest and forgiving manner and treat each other with respect, then no one will be able to break their alliance. Hostages would make no difference. If we are sincere and faithful, then the water plants in a creek or a pond, vegetables like duckweed, wormwood or algae, square or circular bamboo baskets, caldrons with or without legs, or water from a river, a pond, or the roadside can be used to worship gods and honor the emperor. Gentlemen establish mutual trust between two countries through respect. The exchange of hostages is unnecessary. Manners say, 'Clever wives honor the ancestor of their families using duckweed and wormwood.' Grace says, 'If one is honest and faithful, even reeds and the water from the roadside can be used for worshipping gods.' Both books illustrate honesty and trust."