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The Classic Art of War
An Empty Town (1)
空城计

6 October 2008
 

Since earlier 20th century, palm-sized picture books (lianhuaihua 连环画 or xiaorenshu 小人书) first appeared in Shanghai and quickly became a popular pass-time and educational tool for children as well as many young adults. Prior to the television era, one could easily spot mobile picture book stalls in almost every Chinese city, formed by a stand to hold books and few benches around for readers, with book rental fee ranged from one to five fens.

Here we introduce a classic picture book titled "The Empty For Strategy (空城计)", depicting how a military strategist defended his kingdom by winning a critical battle against an empire of war machine with his extraordinary courage and outstanding wisdom.

Original drawings were done by Chinese artists 钱笑呆,徐余兴.

Once upon a time between year 220 and 265, there were three kingdoms in China, with Shu (蜀) in west, Wu (吴) at east and Wei (魏) in north; among the three, Wei was militarily most powerful and headed by a group of warmongers. One day Sima Yi (司马懿), Wei's general secretary plus defence secretary plus de facto vice king, decided to lead 200,000-strong troops advancing towards the border of Shu.

In the kingdom of Shu, there was a man named Zhuge Liang (诸葛亮) who is one of the greatest military strategists plus greatest statesmen plus greatest I Ching masters in Chinese history, and by the time he happened to be the premier of the kingdom. But when Zhuge Liang received the report on Sima Yi's military actions, it was too late for him to summon the force from other parts of the kingdom.

Zhuge Liang calculated that Sima Yi would go for the Street Pavilion Town (街亭) to control Shu's resource supply, so announced that he wanted a brave and smart general to guard this vital position. On hearing that, Ma Su (马谡) immediately self-recommended, because he believed he was the most brave and smartest guy in the kingdom.

Zhuge Liang understood that Ma Su had read many books about the arts of war, and might have a plan to write his own true stories about the war (军旅报告文学是也), but wasn't quite sure if he was good in the real battle situation. However, after Ma Su explained his war theories twice, mentioned his elite background three times and presented his pledge to win the fight four times, Zhuge Liang gave it a go and appointed Lieutenant General Ma Su as the Commander in Chief of the operation. He then further arranged Wang to assist Ma at his side, Gao to help Wang from nearby and Wei to support Gao from behind and Zhao and Deng to keep a watchful eye on everybody from a distance.

Once arrived at Street Pavilion Town which did not have a citywall around, the Commander in Chief Ma decided to set up his military base on a hilltop outside of the town. When the wisdom of his decision was challenged by Wang, Ma shouted back: who has read more books, and who has a higher position here, you or me?

Of course, Ma read more books, and Ma was Wang's boss, so Ma successfully set up his base on the hilltop, while Wang, with just 5,000 soldiers under his command, guarded the town by the main road down the hill.

An Empty Town (2)
An Empty Town (3)

Pre: The Reincarnation (3) - A Pet Dog
Next: After A Loud Slap on the Face (1)

 
 
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Time to Face the Music

www.guqu.net is one of the best music websites from China with a large collection of high quality classic Chinese music files. Here we introduce two songs from the site that you may (or may not) like.

西边的太阳快要落山了

The west is red,
The sun is setting,
Take care of your bank saving!

没有枪没有炮
美人给我们造

No F22s no aircraft carriers?
No worries,
That pretty woman will send some to us.

Chinese Army in Training

Cliff, you're under my feet

Cliff, I'm on your face

Keep a low profile

The PLA, an army of kung fu masters

(Source of original pictures :pic.tiexue.net)

 

 

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