Stories from Ancient China: A Treacherous Imperial Court Official Condemned by History

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Qin Hui is most hated in history for betraying his own country and framing faithful and upright people to achieve his selfish ends.

When Emperors Huizong and Qinzong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1279 A.D.) were taken by the troops from the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 A.D.), Qin Hui and his wife were arrested, too. Qin, an insidious chameleon, allowed himself to be like a servant or even a slave to Emperor Taizong of the Jin Dynasty, and offered to do anything he could to help Jin Wuzhu, the Jin emperor's fourth son. Qin's wife, Wang, who was no less eager to please the enemy, even slept with Jin Wuzhu. The couple convinced the royal court that if they were returned to their homeland, when they succeeded in gaining power, they would to turn the Song territory over to the Jin Dynasty. Convinced that Qin and his wife had become allies, the royal court sent them back to the central plains.

After Qin returned to Song, he had military and political powers under his control. He wanted to negotiate peace with Jin and regarded Yue Fei, who was determined to recover the central plains from the Jin troops, as enemy number one. In a letter to Qin, Jin Wuzhu said, "You ask us, the great Jin Dynasty, for peace day in and day out, and yet Yue Fei is bent on taking the central plains away from us. So you have to have Yue Fei killed before we can agree to talk peace." Qin was fearful that his scheme would be thwarted and he would meet with a bad end because of Yue Fei, so he decided that Yue Fei had to be removed.

At the time, Yue Fei was on his way to victory in fighting the invading Jin troops in the north. Yue's army had a slogan: "Do not take people's house even if the soldiers are freezing; do not loot even if the soldiers are starving." The people respected them for this.

The jealous and sly Qin Hui did not hesitate to resort to tricks to discredit Yue Fei, and sent fake imperial edicts, ordering Yue Fei to stop pursuing the Jin troops. Gaozong, the muddleheaded emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 A.D.), listened to Qin and issued 12 edicts in one day ordering Yue Fei to stop advancing his troops. Sad and angry, Yue Fei exclaimed, "Ten years of effort all destroyed in one day! The mountains and rivers of the state are hard to revitalise! The world of heaven and earth has no more chance to be recovered! "

Qin urged Mo Qixie, another treacherous imperial court official, to fabricate charges against Yue Fei to the imperial court and abetted Zhang Jun, a general, to accuse Yue Fei's general, Zhang Xian, of planning a mutiny. Emperor Gaozong of Song was furious when he heard the false accusations. Qin Hui took advantage of the emperor's muddle-headedness and had Yue Fei, his son Yuan Yun, and his general Zhang Xian, arrested.

On Qin's orders, He Zhu, an imperial investigator, interrogated Yue Fei, but he was unable to find any evidence against him. Mo Qixie couldn't find any proof against Yue Fei either, so what he did was to smear Yue Fei with fabrications.

Toward the end of the year, Qin Hui and his followers still could not convict Yue Fei of any wrongdoing even though they had exhausted all schemes and torture methods. Judicial administrators of the imperial court, Li Ruopu and He Chanyou, and deputy judicial administrator Xue Renfu all believed that Yue Fei was innocent, but they were exiled by Qin Hui. Whoever spoke up for Yue Fei would be persecuted; Liu Yunsheng, a common person, appealed for Yue Fei, and for that he was executed.

Han Shizhong, a general, felt Yue Fei was unfairly treated and challenged Qin Hui. Qin couldn't come up with a convincing answer and instead he said, "Although the letter that Yue Fei and Yue Yun wrote to Zhang Xian could not be verified, it probably existed."

General Han retorted, "How could the words 'it probably existed' convince people!"

On the last day of the year when snow flakes were dancing around, Qin Hui and his wife were drinking in their room. Qin's heart was heavy because he wanted Yue Fei dead and yet he didn't have any evidence to convict him. Wang, Qin's wife, who had been urging Qin to kill Yue Fei every day since they returned to Song, whispered in her husband's ear, "It's easier to bind a tiger than to let it go." On his wife's prompt, Qin thought he could wait no longer. So he sent a note to the prison officer, telling him to quietly have Yue Fei killed in his cell. Along with Yue Fei, his son Yue Yun and general Zhang Xian were also murdered. The whole nation was in tears! Thus the treacherous imperial court official Qin Hui and his wife committed in conspiracy one of the most outrageous crimes of all ages that caused wrath from both man and heaven.

One day Qin Hui and his family were touring the West Lake, and he saw a giant who was talking to him, "You persecuted faithful and upright people; the crimes you committed are so heinous that you should be torn to pieces!" Not long after he returned home, he started to suffer gangrene on his back.

Qin continued to rain false accusations onto good and faithful people such as Han Shizhong, Zhang Xin, Zhang Zhongxian, Hu Wending, and so on. He started drafting indictments with the intention to have them all thrown into jail. That's what that did him in! As he was writing them he suddenly felt dizzy and saw that a deity knocked him over with a hammer and was saying to him, "You've committed enough of crimes and are near death. And yet you still have the audacity to bring harm to good people!" "Please, spare my life!" Qin yelled in a cold sweat. When he was about to sign the document drafted on his instructions by the Judicial Office of the imperial court, his hands were trembling so hard that he could not write a single word. The moment he closed his eyes he would see the deity closing in on him with the hammer held high. A few days later he died of gangrene. Moments before his death, people near him all heard him crying out for help and the sound of iron chains. His son, Qin Xi, died too.

He Li, one of Qin's aides, went southeast for an errand and in a moment of trance entered the netherworld. There he saw Qin Xi in chains and asked, "Where is my boss?" In tears, Qin Xi replied that he was in Fengdu. He Li moved on following Qin Xi's directions, and indeed saw Qin Hui and Mo Qixie in Fengdu. Both Qin and Mo were in cuffs and chains and were in excruciating pain from torture. Qin said to He, "Tell my wife that retribution has begun for what we did to Yue Fei."

Since her husband's death, Wang had never been at ease. One day word came that 500, 000 Jin troops led by Jin Wuzhu stormed into the central plains. Wang thought, Yue Fei's dead now, the Song Dynasty is about to fall, so I'll surrender to Jin Wuzhu and I may be granted some title and wealth. But then she was informed by He Li that retribution had started for her conspiracy with her husband against Yue Fei. In her mind's eye she saw Qin Hui in chains and it scared her. She also saw ghostly guards approaching her, hammers and chains in hands, and then she was hit and fell to the ground. People outside her room heard her calling for help, and when they rushed into the room they found her dead.

Yue Fei's reputation was cleared under Emperor Xiaozong of the Southern Song Dynasty. Yue Fei, a real man who was faithful to his belief, loyal to his country, and loving to the people, became an immortal hero. People of later generations built a tomb and a temple at the West Lake, Hangzhou City, to remember him. In the enter of the temple stands a statue of Yue Fei in armour, and above his head hangs a plate that reads Return my rivers and mountains. In front of his tomb, raw iron statues of Qin Hui, his wife, Mo Qixie, and Zhang Jun, are on their knees, surrounded by iron fences, their chests and shoulders bare and their hands bound behind their backs, bearing the spurns and scolds from people for generations to come. The inscription on the tombstone reads The green mountain is fortunate to bury the bones of a loyal man; the white iron is innocent enough to mold treacherous officials.

Over the past hundreds of years, people's hatred for the treacherous imperial court officials has only deepened. The kneeling statues have more than once been broken by angry crowds, and then been rebuilt only for people to vent their indignation. Qin Hui, the giant fool of a treacherous official, has been nailed on the column of shame in history, and he will be spurned forever and condemned by history.

A poem reads:

The arrogance of wielding power melts away like ice
God and man attack, Heaven's Way will never forget

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