In China during the Ch'ing period, as before, many Confucian values were so family-centered as to tolerate degrees of nepotism not acceptable in some other societies. Ideally, of course, Confucian values admitted of no conflict between loyalty to the Emperor and loyalty to close relatives and friends. Nevertheless, conflicts between public and private interests were recognized at least as early as the Meng-tzu and were typified in such expressions as “robbing the public to help the private” (chiakung chi-ssu) and “putting the family first and the nation last” (hsien chia-tsu erh hou kuo-chia). But whatever may have been the nepotistic intent of officials, there was during the Ch'ing period, at least before the Taiping rebellion, a great centralization of imperial authority.

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