, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 97-111

First online:

Confucian Views on War as Seen in the Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals

  • Kam-por YuAffiliated withGeneral Education Centre, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Email author 

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This essay explores Confucian views on war as seen in the Spring and Autumn Annals. The interpretation is based mainly on the Gongyang Zhuan, supplemented by other authoritative sources in the Gongyang tradition, such as Dong Zhongshu (179-104 BCE) and He Xiu (129-182). The Spring and Autumn Annals contains three components: facts, words, and principles. This essay explicates the principles for going to war and the principles for conducting a war. The Confucian perspective sheds light on war against enemies of civilization, conditions for waging a preemptive war, punitive expedition, as well as the use of weapons of mass destruction. The Confucian views as presented here are realistic and pragmatic in nature but are also compatible with the humanistic concern of Confucianism. This essay ends with a summary of the salient and sophisticated features of the Confucian views on war.


Confucius Spring and Autumn Annals Gongyang Zhuan War and peace Just war theory