The ethical values and norms which are to guide social behavior in Communist China are often conveyed through fables and stories. It thus might not be inappropriate to begin a discussion of these values with a story that is now perhaps as familiar to students of contemporary Chinese affairs as it is to the Chinese. The story is from traditional Chinese folklore, but it became a part of the Chinese Communist tradition when it was retold by Mao Tse-tung in his concluding speech to the Seventh National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in June of 1945:

“In ancient China there was a fable. ‘How Yu Kung Removed the Mountains.’ It is the story of an old man in North China in ancient times, by the name of Yu Kung of the North Mountain. His house faced south and its doorway was obstructed by two big mountains, Taihang and Wangwu. With great determination, he led his sons to dig up the mountains with pickaxes. Another old man, Chih Sho witnessed their attempts and laughed, saying: ‘What fools you are to attempt this! To dig up two huge mountains is utterly beyond your capacity.’ Yu Kung replied: ‘When I die, there are my sons; when they die there will be their own sons, and so on to infinity. As to these two mountains, high as they are, they cannot become higher but, on the contrary, with every bit dug away, they will become lower and lower. Why can't we dig them away?’ Mr. Yu Kung refuted Mr. Chih Sho's erroneous view and went on digging at the mountains day after day without interruption. God's heart was touched by such perseverance and he sent two celestial beings down to earth to carry away the mountains on their backs.”

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