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Home History and Culture Thirty-Six Strategies 29-32
Thirty-Six Strategies 29-32
Learn Chinese - History and Culture

29.Deck The Dead Tree With Silk Blossoms

Tying silk blossoms on a dead tree gives the illusion that the tree is healthy. Through the use of artifice and disguise make something of no value appear valuable; of no threat appear dangerous; of no use, useful.

The warlord Cao Cao of Wei, was pursuing the fleeing army and population of Shu led by the heroes of the Peach Grove, Liu Pei and Chang Fei. The retreating column came upon the Changpan bridge over the Wei river with the enemy army only hours behind. On the opposite side of the river there was heavy forest. Chang Fei turned to his general Liu Pei and said: "This bridge is the only crossing point for miles and provides us with an advantage. You take the army and people across while I hold off the Wei army to give you as much of a lead as possible." After the Shu army had crossed over, Chang Fei sent his small group of cavalrymen across the bridge into the forest where they tied branches to their horses tails and rode around in circles. Chang Fei remained sitting on his charger in the middle of the bridge. When the pursuing army of Wei came upon the sight of Chang Fei alone on the bridge they stopped. Cao Cao noticed the huge dust cloud in the distance behind the woods and suspected a trap. Chang Fei roared out a challenge to the Wei army but Cao Cao, now convinced this was a ruse, turned his men around to retreat. Chang Fei seeing the Wei army turn about spurred his charger towards the Wei as though to attack them single handedly. This so unnerved the Wei forces that they made a mad scramble to escape the area convinced a trap was closing around them. This trick bought Lui Pei and Chang Fei enough time to escape with their men and regroup at Chianling.

30.Exchange The Role Of Guest For That Of Host
Defeat the enemy from within by infiltrating the enemy's camp under the guise of cooperation, surrender, or peace treaties. In this way you can discover his weakness and then, when the enemy's guard is relaxed, strike directly at the source of his strength.

In the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by Luo Guanzhong, Han Fu participated in the coalition against Dong Zhuo. After the coalition is broken, he returned to Jizhou. Yuan Shao, whose troops are supported by Han Fu begins to look at the options to remove his dependency on the food shipment from Han Fu to maintain his troops. Following Feng Ji's advice, Yuan Shao pretended to be willing to divide Han Fu's territory with Gongsun Zan if he attacks Han Fu. Seeing the incoming invasion from Gongsun Zan, the frightened Han Fu surrendered his territory to Yuan Shao although a number of officials pleaded for him to reconsider. After Yuan Shao took over Jizhou, he kept the territory for himself, which infuriated Gongsun Zan, and stripped Han Fu's rank. The disappointed Han Fu left everything, including his family and went to seek refuge.

31.The Strategy Of Beautiful Women
Send your enemy beautiful women to cause discord within his camp. This strategy can work on three levels. First, the ruler becomes so enamored with the beauty that he neglects his duties and allows his vigilance to wane. Second, other males at court will begin to display aggressive behavior that inflames minor differences hindering co-operation and destroying morale. Third, other females at court, motivated by jealousy and envy, begin to plot intrigues further exasperating the situation.

Even though this has been done many times, perhaps the most famous historical example is Xi Shi who was sent to the State of Wu during the Spring and Autumn Period.
Xi Shi's beauty was said to be so extreme that while laundering her garments in the river, the fish were so dazzled that they forgot how to swim and gradually sunk to the bottom of the rive.

King Gou Jian of Yue, was once imprisoned after a defeat in a war by King Fu Chai of Wu, king of the State of Wu. The state of Yue later became a tribulatory to Wu. Secretly planning his revenge, Gou Jian's minister Wen Zhong suggested training beautiful women and offering them to Fu Chai as a tribute. His other minister, Fan Li, found Xi Shi and Zheng Dan, and gifted them to Fu Chai in 490 BC.

Bewitched by the beauty of Xi Shi and Zheng Dan, Fu Chai forgot all about his state affairs and on their instigation, killed his best advisor, the great general Wu Zixu. Fu Chai even built Guanwa Palace (Palace of Beautiful Women) in an imperial park on the slope of Lingyan Hill, about 15 kilometers west of Suzhou. The strength of Wu dwindled, and in 473 BC Gou Jian launched his strike and put the Wu army to full rout. King Fu Chai lamented that he should have listened to Wu Zixu, and then committed suicide.

32.The Strategy Of Open City Gates
When the enemy is superior in numbers and your situation is such that you expect to be overrun at any moment, then drop all pretence of military preparedness and act casually. Unless the enemy has an accurate description of your situation this unusual behavior will arouse suspicions. With luck he will be dissuaded from attacking.

In 149 BC, the famous strategist Kong Ming of Shu, launched an attack against the state of Wei by sending an advance force to scout for the enemy. Leading the army of Wei was Suma-I who also sent an advance force of fifty thousand troops. The two vanguards met and engaged in battle but the Wei forces were superior and won the day. The defeated Shu vanguard raced back to the main body of Kong Ming's army whose troops, seeing the look of fear in the faces of their comrades, thought that the enemy was upon them and fled in panic. Kong Ming and a few bodyguards fled to the city of Yangping with the Wei army in hot pursuit. Vastly outnumbered and unable to either retreat or sustain a siege, Kong Ming played a last resort strategy that made him famous throughout China. He removed all the guards and battle flags from the walls and had all four of the city gates flung open. When Suma-I approached the city he could see only a few old men nonchalantly sweeping the grounds within the gates. Kong-Ming was seen sitting in one of the towers smiling and playing his lute. Suma-I remarked to his advisors: "That man seems to be too happy for my comfort. Doubtless he has some deep laid scheme in mind to bring us all to disaster." As they stood spell bound, the strains of Kong Ming's lute reached their ears and this only heightened their sense of foreboding. Such peculiar behavior was too suspicious and, fearing a clever trap, Suma-I turned his army back and retreated. After the army left Kong Ming and his remaining troops departed in the opposite direction and made their way safely back to their capital.

三十六计故事 29-32
第29计 树上开花

【读音】shù shàng kāi huā


第30计 反客为主

【读音】fǎn kè wéi zhǔ

第31计 美人计

【读音】měi rén jì

第32计 空城计

【读音】kōng chéng jì

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