Soul of China

Doing what is right to set an example

During the reign of Emperor Han Ai Di (漢哀帝 6-2 B.C.), He Bing (何并) was appointed as governor of Ying Chuan (颖川) prefecture.

At the time, Zhong Yuan (鍾元), a native from Ying Chuan, concurrently held the positions of minister and military officer of the imperial court. He wielded great power and influence in the court. Zhong Yuan’s younger brother, Zhong Wei (鍾威) was an officer of Ying Chuan prefecture. He used his power to embezzle thousands of cash.

Before assuming his position in Ying Chuan, He Bing called on Zhong Yuan to say goodbye. Knowing his younger brother’s crime, Zhong Yuan removed his official cap and requested He Bing to reduce the punishment of Zhong Wei from death penalty to grip of pincers. He Bing replied, “The conviction is based on the degree of crime of your younger brother and the law of the emperor, and it’s nothing to do with this governor.”

Zhong Yuan realized the intent of He Bing. He was so frightened he sent someone to tell his younger brother to flee immediately.

Zhao Ji (趙季) and Li Kuan (李款) of Yang Zhai (陽翟) county were notorious criminals. They kept a lot of goons, rode roughshod over county folks, raped women and bullied government staff. Upon learning that He Bing had assumed the position of governor, knowing he was strict in enforcing laws, they too were frightened and fled.

When he arrived at Ying Chuan, He Bing sent people to arrest Zhong Wei, Zhao Ji and Li Kuan. He publicly proclaimed to the people of the prefecture that the three were guilty of heinous crimes that warranted grave punishment. Although they were on the run, once arrested, they would be beheaded.

Counting on his elder brother’s backing, Zhong Wei stopped fleeing and stayed put at Luoyang (洛陽) county. He was arrested by officials from the prefecture and executed. Zhao Ji and Li Kuan were also arrested and executed. He Bing hanged their heads at the downtown center and announced the crimes they had committed.

Since then peace and order prevailed in the prefecture, and the people seldom committed crimes. — First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 28, no. 23 (May 10-23, 2016): 5.