yǐ yì zhì shì 以义制事
Handle Matters According to Morality and Justice
To act based on morality and justice, that is, to manage major political and military matters according to the principles of morality and justice. In ancient Chinese political discourse, it was never right to suggest that power could be exercised arbitrarily. On the contrary, it was expected that there should be a legitimate basis for the creation of power, and that power would be exercised according to moral precepts. The ancient Chinese always attached great importance to this point. Morality and justice overrode and regulated power – such was the political ecology they highly esteemed.
The ruler must work hard to promote high moral standards and advocate the correct path among the people; he should handle affairs of state according to moral precepts and guide people’s thinking to accord with the rules of etiquette, so as to leave a rich legacy to those who come after him. (The Book of History)