Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Fan Ju -- A Remarkable and Vengeful Strategist

After Minister Shang Yang’s great reform made Kingdom Qin strong and powerful, other six kingdoms felt threatened and then allied to fight against the Qin.


This alliance brought peace for over a decade, until an exceptional strategist and politician disintegrated it, so that Qin could weaken and defeat other kingdoms separately. 


Impasse in His Home Country and Escaping to Kingdom Qin

Fan Ju (? — 255 B. C.), born into an impoverished family, was originally a low rank officer in his country. But soon he was set up and beat nearly to death; so he faked his death, changed name and then hid in a small village.


Later a minister of kingdom Qin was visiting Fan’s country, a waiter, also was a friend of Fan, recommended Fan to him. Then Fan sneaked into the hotel in the middle of the night with his waiter friend’s help, met and impressed Qin’s minister who decided to take Fan back to Qin. 


Under the minister’s protection, Fan successfully escaped from his own country to kingdom Qin, but never got a chance to meet the king. He was treated badly for over a year, with poor food and unpleasant living condition.


But Fan never gave up; he wrote a letter to king of Qin and left a great impression. So he then summoned by the king and then got an important position. 


Breaking of Six-Kingdom Alliance 

Fan assisted Qin's army successfully extended territory and gained more trust from the king. Soon he suggested the king to consolidate the centralized power and absolute control, which resulted in empress dowager was cut off from politicians and four super powerful noble clans were expelled out of Kingdom Qin.


Later Fan got promoted and became the most powerful minister.  


However, the alliance against Qin was still a huge threaten and obstacle at that time.


Fan found out other kings and important ministers’ shortcomings and vulnerabilities, and used them quite well. He gave money to those who were poor and greedy, and sent beautiful women to those who were romantic or dissolute.


The extremely smart point, however, was that he only bribed part of people in the alliance, which then led to many internal suspicious and infightings.


Soon, this previous strong alliance in history of China became only an empty title. 


Fan Ju's Successful Diplomatic Policy 

Then Fan promoted the principle of “befriending the far and attacking the near” for kingdom Qin. Since the alliance of the other six countries was collapsed, Qin successfully built good relationship with far and big kingdoms, while continuously attacking nearby ones.


Qin then kept expanding because of its strong and aggressive army, until they were confronted the Kingdom Zhao. 


Commander of the Kingdom Zhao was a very famous and talented general with remarkable military achievements. Though Qin’s general and the army were quite powerful, they were at a stalemate for over three years.


Fan then sent many spies to kingdom Zhao and spread rumors that this Zhao’s commander took Qin’s bribe and didn’t want to start a big fight, that was why this war had been lasting for years; the only general that Qin’s army really afraid was a young one named Kuo.


Those spies did a great job, which made the King of Zhao believed all those rumors and replaced the great commander with the young one.


After hearing this, Fan sent a young and aggressive general named Bai Qi secretly to the battlefield at the same time. 


The young general Kuo was the son of a talented general who defeated Qin before, but he was only a person who had read many military books and with no real battle experiences.


He led Zhao’s army rashly attacked Qin’s troop, but ended up with a huge failure. Kuo sacrificed himself, while more than 400, 000 fine soldiers were killed and buried alive by Qin’s new commander Bai Qi.


Since then, the former prosperous Kingdom Zhao never had a chance to fully recover from this enormous loss, until it was finally perished by Qin decades later. 


Fan Ju himself was an extraordinary politician and strategist who made great contribution to Qin, but he also made some mistakes when dealing with people.


He was quite famous for being grateful and vengeful in the history of China: people who had helped him was all generously rewarded, while those bullied him all got revenged, no matter they were civilians or noble lords.


Fan also set up the famous general Bai Qi and forced him to commit suicide; then he nominated his own friend to be the commander of Qin's army, who later encountered a big failure and surrendered to another kingdom.


Then, Fan’s another friend, who occupied a high position recommended by him, broke the law and got sentenced to death.


The King of Qin never blamed Fan for his friends’ mistakes, but Fan felt frustrated and regret.


So he recommended the king another good statesman and resigned; afterwards, he lived quietly in seclusion, until he passed away old and sick.