Da Yi Mie Qin (Uphold justice at the cost of one's blood relations)
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), there was many dukedoms under the king of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. These dukedoms often fought one another to expand their territories. And within a dukedom, the struggle for power frequently occurred. A typical case was the murder of the Duke of Wei by his younger brother Zhou Xu (州吁) in the state of Wei (卫国).
Zhou Xu committed the crime with the help of an important official called Shi Hou (石厚). Eventually, Zhou Xu became duke himself. Then he launched wars against other dukedoms and the people suffered. There were complaints and resentments all around.
When he learned about this, Zhou Xu was worried. He talked with Shi Hou about how to stabilize the situation and win back people's confidence. Shi Hou said:"That's easy. I'll ask my father to speak for us. He is highly esteemed by all the officials and the people. I'm sure he'll help us out."
Shi Hou's father, Shi Que (石碏), had been a high-ranking official serving under the former duke. He resigned when Zhu Xu seized power. He hated Zhou Xu for his murder of the former duke. He also hated his own son, Shi Hou, for his part in the murder. Now, Shi Hou came and asked him for help. The father said, "A duke' ascendance to power should be granted by the king. If the king approved it, all the problems will be solved." "But how can we bet the king's approval?" Shi Hou asked his father. The old man said, "The Duke of Chen (陈国) is trusted by the king and his dukedom has good relationship with ours. If you and Zhou Xu go to the Duke of Chen and ask him for help, I'm sure he is willing to say a good word for you before the king."
Shi Hou passed his father's word to Zhu Xu and they went to the Dukedom of Chen. But before they arrived, the old man sent an express letter in secret to the Duke of Chen asking him to kill the two murderers.
As soon as Zhou Xu and Shi Hou arrived in the Dukedom of Chen, they were arrested. Some officials from Wei made a special trip to Chen to kill the two men. They put Zhou Xu to death but hesitated to kill Shi Hou because of his father. When the old man learnt about this, he said firmly :'My son has also committed the murder of the duke. What's the good to have him in the world!" he sent his own man to Chen and beheaded Shi Hou.
Later historians commented: "To safeguard the interest of the country, Shi Que did not bend the law for the benefit of his relative. It's really a case of cutting off consanguinity for the sake of righteousness!" Hence comes the idiom "Uphold justice at the cost of one's blood relation".