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Great virtue is like water.

By:The Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies

Great virtue is like water.

This comes from Dao De Jing (Classic of the Way and Virtue), also known as Lao Zi (The Book of Lao Zi). It means that the greatest virtue is like water, nurturing all things without competing with them.

Lao Zi (dates unknown), or Li Er, a thinker of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and the founder of philosophical Daoism, used this simile to advocate that a virtuous ruler should govern with the gentle and accommodating qualities displayed by water. He should assist and provide for people just as water does, rather than competing with them for resources. Later this term came to mean that one should act as water does in nourishing all things and do one's best to help others without seeking fame or profit. It also implies virtues such as endurance and modesty.

Addressing the welcome dinner of the 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing in November 2014, Xi Jinping said: Over 2,000 years ago, Chinese philosopher Lao Zi noted that "The great virtue is like water, which benefits all of creation without trying to compete with them." True, water nourishes all things under heaven. We, APEC member economies, are brought together by the water of the Pacific Ocean. We have a shared responsibility to make the Pacific an ocean of peace, friendship and cooperation, an ocean that brings harmony, development, prosperity and progress to the Asia-Pacific region.




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