The Unbiased Recommendations of Qi Xi
Qi Xi (620-545 B.C.) was a senior counsellor for Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period. He was a selfless, broad-minded person who handled matters in a fair and just manner.
The encyclopedic Chinese classic text Lüshi Chunqiu from around 239 B.C —also known as The Annals of Lü Buwei, prime minister of the state of Qin—recorded that when Qi Xi recommended people for public service, he only wished for the good ones to be appointed and disregarded whether the people he recommended had opposed him, or whether they were his own kin.
One day, the Duke of Jin asked Qi: “There is an opening for county magistrate at Nan Yang. Who could be assigned to this post?”
Qi replied: “Xie Hu could be assigned to this post”
The Duke said: “Was Xie Hu not your enemy? How come you recommend him?”
“Your Highness was asking who could handle this job, not who is my enemy!” said Qi.
The Duke then appointed Xie Hu as county magistrate of Nan Yang. It turned out that he really did a good job and the people were full of praise for him.
After a while, the Duke asked Qi another question: “We need a high ranking army officer in the capital. Who could handle this post?”
Qi replied: “Qi Wu can do it.”
The Duke said: “Is Qi Wu not your son? How come you recommend your own son?”
“Your Highness was asking who could handle this job as a high ranking army officer, not asking who is my son!” said Qi.
The Duke then appointed Qi Wu to the post. He really did a good job and received praise from everyone.
When Confucius heard about this, he said to his students: “To recommend your enemy is not being toady; to put forward your son should not be for self-benefit; only when one has high merit can one recommend people like this. Qi Xi was, therefore, a real selfless, fair one!”
Edited by Damian Robin.