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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 91, Supplement 1, pp 17–35 | Cite as

The Money Making in Ancient China: A Literature Review Journey Through Ancient Texts

  • Chan FlorenceEmail author
Article

Abstract

This essay is a literature review journey of ancient Chinese texts, including Confucius’ Analects, Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historians of China, Pan Ku’s The History of the Former Han Dynasty, and official historical texts of subsequent dynasties. Confucius is not against the accumulation of wealth as long as it is acquired through moral means. Sima Qian, the greatest Chinese historian, appreciates the contribution of successful private enterprises towards the betterment of economy by its efficient usage of resources and his opinion is strikingly similar to modern economic theories such as F.A. Hakey’s ideas on free market economy. Their standpoints are, however, rejected by all later official view which emphasizes “All land and resources belong to the King.” Starting from Pan Ku’ proposal on the classification of social hierarchy, businessmen belong to the bottom stratum of the social ladder. The money-making businessmen of the common people is portrayed as “immoral” or even “illegal,” but when the profit goes to the King or when the business is state-owned, it is taken as reasonable and highly acceptable. The Chinese King is the controller of most profitable and important businesses in major industries and mining as well as the distributor of most valuable resources. All official view emphasizes the stability of the state, for then the control of the country can be ensured and the power of the King can be consolidated.

Keywords

centrally planned economy Confucius free market economy Hakey money-making moral official suppression Pan Ku private enterprises Sima Qian 

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References

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Research Centre for Chinese Ancient Texts, Institute of Chinese StudiesThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongPeople’s Republic of China

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