Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

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Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:09 pm

Dong Zhao (Gongren) (A.K.A. Dong Yao)
156-236


Dong Zhao was a man from Dingtao, in Jiyin commandery, Yan province. He served as a magistrate [ling] for the counties of Julu and Zhao, in Ji province. In 187, Jia Zong became the Governor of Ji and began conducting reforms. The local officials were subject to harsh scrutiny and Dong Zhao proved to be one of the few who was able to retain his position.[1]

In 189, the warlord Dong Zhuo usurped power in the capital and many warlords gathered against him. Their official leader was Yuan Shao. It was around this time, 190, that Dong Zhao became an adviser to Yuan Shao. By 192, Yuan Shao was at war with Gongsun Zan, who attacked Julu. The senior officials were intimidated by Gongsun Zan and intended to defect. Yuan Shao heard about this and sent Dong Zhao to take over affairs in Julu and secure the county’s loyalty. Though Yuan Shao asked after Dong Zhao’s plans, Dong Zhao would only say that he would adapt as the circumstances dictated. When he arrived in julu, he found that the rebellious officials were under the influence of a man named Sun Kang and other members of local powers. Dong Zhao claimed that bandits were threatening to attack Julu and proclaimed a state of emergency. This done, he executed Sun Kang and about thirty other local leaders. After this, Dong Zhao had no difficulty establishing order and loyalty in Julu.[2]

After his success in Julu, Yuan Shao sent Dong Zhao to Wei commandery. The Grand Administrator [taishou] had recently been killed in battle and the territory was overrun with bandits. Dong Zhao gathered intelligence from traverling merchants. He was able to use this information to arrange a surprise attack against the bandits, allowing him to defeat them completely.[3]

At this time, though, Dong Zhao ran into some trouble with Yuan Shao. His brother, Dong Fang, was an officer under Zhang Miao, who had started a feud with Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao then began to suspect Dong Zhao of disloyalty. With Yuan Shao suddenly turned against him, Dong Zhao decided to flee. He went west, hoping to join with the emperor in Chang’an, who was under Dong Zhuo’s control at that time. As he was passing through Henei, the Grand Administrator of the commandery, Zhang Yang, detained Dong Zhao due to his affiliation with Yuan Shao. Dong Zhao was forced to surrender his insignia of office and Zhang Yang forced him to accept the position Commandant of the Cavalry [jiwei]. [4] Later that year, Dong Zhuo was assassinated by Lü Bu and was succeeded by a cabal of warlords led by Li Jue.

In this year, the general Cao Cao had just won a victory over an enormous group of bandits in Yan province and had recently become Governor of Yan province. In order to establish a connection with legitimate authority, Cao Cao sent a letter to the emperor at Chang'an. Because Zhang Yang controlled the road to Chang'an, he detained Cao Cao's messenger. It was at this time that Dong Zhao stepped in. He argued to Zhang Yang that Cao Cao was a man of extraordinary talent and ability and that it would be best to seek his friendship – and that sending the message through would be the perfect way to do it. Zhang Yang accepted his arguments. Dong Zhao went one step further and wrote letters to Li Jue and the other leaders of the cabal, complimenting them personally. He said that these letters were from Cao Cao.[5] This letter established a connection between Cao Cao and the emperor that would later prove invaluable during Cao Cao's rise to power.

In 195, Emperor Xian fled from Chang'an to escape the tyranny of Li Jue and his subordinates. He was assisted by many officials in the capital, and other minor warlords joined his party to offer protection. Zhang Yang also offered protection to the emperor, and it was in this way that Dong Zhao came into the emperor's camp. This group gathered at the former capital of Luoyang in 196. Cao Cao – in neighboring Yan province – sent his general Cao Hong to collect them but they held the mountain passes that defended Luoyang and would to let Cao Hong pass. Again Dong Zhao intervened. He noted that one of the leaders, Yang Feng, though he had the strongest soldiers[6] had no allies among the other leaders. As such, Dong Zhao wrote him a letter, claiming that it was from Cao Cao. It read thusly:

“Knowing your reputation and admiring your fine deeds, I offer you my full and sincere friendship. You saved the Emperor from his difficulties and have returned his court to the old capital. Your achievement in his support can be matched by no other. How excellent that is!

At this time there are masses of wicked men making trouble in China, and the four seas have no peace. The imperial throne is the most important thing, and all our work must be devoted to its protection and support.

Now is the time for all men of good will to clear the imperial way, but such a task is more than one can manage alone. Truly the heart and the belly and the four limbs depend upon each other, and if one is absent, it will surely be missed. You be master on the inside, and I shall be your ally abroad. I have supplies and you have troops; we complement each other. Live or die, let us act together.”


Yang Feng found Dong Zhao's letter persuasive and spoke in Cao Cao's favor to the other leaders. They all agreed to invite Cao Cao to Luoyang. It was in this way that Cao Cao came to be the protector of Emperor Xian.[7]

Cao Cao, having learned of the ways in which Dong Zhao had helped him, summoned Dong Zhao to him and the two met for the first time. They discussed the current state of affairs and Dong Zhao suggested relocating the emperor from Luoyang to Chang'an, though he warned that doing so might distress many people, who saw the emperor's return to Luoyang as a sign that things were going back to normal. Cao Cao ultimately decided to move the emperor to Xu city. Cao Cao was concerned about Yang Feng, who had the most powerful army in the region. Dong Zhao informed Cao Cao that Yang Feng had been his ally, and suggested telling Yang Feng that he was moving the emperor to Luyang because Luoyang had little food. Since Luyang was close to Xu city, it would not be difficult to manage. Cao Cao followed this advice.[8]

It would appear, however, that this advice was not entirely successful. As Cao Cao was moving the emperor east, Yang Feng tried to intercept the party. Cao Cao retaliated and Yang Feng fled to Yuan Shu's protection.[9]

In 198, Zhang Yang was killed by one of his officers. Two of his subordinated, Xue Hong and Miao Shang, intended to seek aid from Yuan Shao. However, Cao Cao sent Dong Zhou to speak with them. Dong Zhuo successfully persuaded the two of them to surrender Henei to Cao Cao. [10]

In 199, Cao Cao sent the recently-surrendered general Liu Bei and others to attack his enemy Yuan Shu. Dong Zhao, along with Cheng Yu, Guo Jia, and others, warned Cao Cao that Liu Bei could not be trusted. Cao Cao attempted to recall Liu Bei but the messenger could not catch him. This advice proved to be sound, as Liu Bei then attacked and killed Cao Cao's Inspector of Xu province, seizing the territory.[11]

After Cao Cao drove Liu Bei out of Xu, he appointed Dong Zhao as Governor [mu] of Xu. Shortly after this, Yuan Shao attacked Cao Cao and the two of them fought at Guandu. During this time, Cao Cao appointed Dong Zhao as Grand Administrator of Wei commandery – which was in Yuan Shao’s territory. After receiving this appointment, Dong Zhao went from Xu to Guandu to assist in the defense against Yuan Shao. [12]

By 204, Cao Cao was besieging the city of Ye, capital of Wei commandery. At that time, the Grand Administrator of Wei was Yuan Chuqing, a relative of main Yuan family. Yuan Chuqing’s father, Yuan Yuanzhang, had been living in Yang province and had been brought in by Cao Cao to be a member of the imperial court. Dong Zhao recognized this and sent a very eloquent letter to Yuan Chunqing, urging him to change his allegiance in favor of Cao Cao because of the favor that had been shown to his father. Dong Zhao’s letter was very persuasive, and Yuan Chuqing’s defection greatly facilitated the capture of Ye. [13]

In the following two years, Dong Zhao followed and advised Cao Cao during his campaigns against the Wuhuan and the Yuan brothers. Dong Zhao designed a series of canals that greatly improved the transportation of military supplies and made the campaign much easier. For this and his other efforts, he was enfeoffed as a marquis after the campaign. [14]

In 212, Dong Zhao offered certain advice from Cao Cao. The exact nature of this advice is debated, and so this biography will present two different versions of events.[15] The first account says that Dong Zhao advised Cao Cao to assume the title of king [wang], a title ordinarily reserved only for members of the imperial family. Cao Cao’s longtime adviser and friend Xun Yu argued against this plan and Cao Cao was displeased. Eventually, Cao Cao reached something of a compromise and called himself duke [gong], only assuming the title of king several years later.[16]

The second version presents some small but important differences. Rather than advising Cao Cao to adopt a title reserved for the imperial family, Dong Zhao advised Cao Cao to alter the system of ranks in the empire. Under the current system, there were only kings and marquis [hou]. Marquis was the only rank available to those outside of the royal family, and a marquis required special permission to remain at court. Dong Zhao suggested reviving an older system of rank that would allow Cao Cao to gain a higher title (that of duke) without infringing upon the titles of the imperial family. It appears that Cao Cao accepted this proposal over the opposition of his Xun Yu.[17]

Regardless of the specifics of the debate, it would appear that, on Dong Zhao's advice, Cao Cao's noble title was advanced to that of Duke.

In 215, Cao Cao led a campaign against Zhang Lu in Hanzhong. Though Zhang Lu wished to surrender, his brother Zhang Wei wanted to fight Cao Cao, so Zhang Wei stationed troops at Yangping pass. A memorial to the emperor, Dong Zhao presents a strange – even humorous – version of these events in which Cao Cao's army achieved a seemingly accidental victory over Zhang Wei.[18]

“When Cao Cao, took Liang province and Wudu the people surrendered. They said, 'Zhang Lu is easy to attack. The mountains north and south of Yang Ping are far apart. The pass is indefensible.' Taking this to be true Cao Cao advanced to Yangping. When he arrived he saw that this was not true and sighed, 'When other people discuss plans they seldom see it the way one does oneself.' When he attacked Yangping it was very difficult and he had to pull back. Many soldiers were injured or killed. Emperor Wu's plans were ruined and he desired to pull out, regroup, then return. He sent the Grand General Xiahou Dun and general Xu Chu to call back the soldiers on the mountain. They did not return but instead got lost in the night. They stumbled upon Zhang Wei's camp and the bandits scattered and fled. Palace Attendant, Xin Pi, and Liu Ye at the rear of the troops reported to Xiahou Dun and Xu Chu, 'Our government troops have taken the chief camps of the enemy, and the rebels are running away.' The generals could not believe it. Xiahou Dun went to see it himself, then reported to Cao Cao. Thereupon they sent the troops to attack and thoroughly routed them. This account is all that I know.”[19]

For a long time, the southern leaders Sun Quan and Liu Bei had been allies against Cao Cao. However, Liu Bei had repeatedly violated Sun Quan's trust and Sun Quan sought opportunities to take revenge. In 219, Liu Bei's general Guan Yu attacked Cao Cao's territories in Jing Province. Sun Quan wanted to use this opportunity to take control of Liu Bei's territory in Jing. Sun Quan had previously renewed an old alliance between his faction and Cao Cao's[20]. He informed Cao Cao that he was going to attack Guan Yu and asked Cao Cao to keep it a secret. Cao Cao consulted his advisers on this matter. Dong Zhao advised him to tell Sun Quan that he would keep it a secret, then inform those armies defending against Guan Yu that Sun Quan was attacking. Hearing that he was being attacked, Guan Yu would break off his assaults on Cao Cao's territory and return home to defend his land. In this way, Sun Quan would fight Cao Cao's battles for him. Cao Cao accepted this plan. It is worth noting that this scheme did not work entirely as planned. Hearing of Sun Quan's impending invasion, the moral Cao Cao's forces rose and they were able to hold out against Guan Yu. Guan Yu, on the other hand, was too arrogant to believe Sun Quan would attack him, so he did not withdraw to defend his territory.[21] As a result, Sun Quan captured Guan Yu's territory in Jing. Guan Yu was driven into hiding, abandoned by most of his army, and eventually defeated in a petty skirmish and executed.

Cao Cao passed away in 220 and his place was assumed by his son, Cao Pi. Emperor Xian subsequently surrendered the imperial throne to Cao Pi, who then founded the Wei dynasty. Dong Zhao was given the prestigious title of Court Architect [jiangzuo dajiang]. By 222, he was promoted to be Minister Herald [da honglu] as well as a Palace Attendant [shizhong]. [22]

Cao Pi attacked Sun Quan several times. In 222, Cao Pi's general, Cao Xiu, requested permission to lead an attack across the Jiang River. Cao Pi believed his plan was horrible and wanted to stop him. Dong Zhao was attending to Cao Pi at the time, and they discussed the situation. Dong Zhao argued that Cao Xiu was the only one of the generals in the area who would want to cross the Jiang River, and that Cao Xiu could not do so without the support of his comrades. True to Dong Zhao's prediction, the other commanders were reluctant to cross the river and Cao Xiu did not advance. This proved to be fortuitous, as a sudden storm destroyed the Sun fleet that was crossing the river, allowing Cao Xiu to score a great victory.[23]

In 223, Xiahou Shang crossed the Jiang river to attack Sun Qua. Dong Zhao warned Cao Pi that this was a bad maneuver because retreat was difficult. Cao Pi recalled Xiahou Shang, who managed to return to safety shortly before the river flooded. This prevented the army from suffering a bad defeat.[24]

Sometime after this, Dong Zhao became the acting Minister over the Masses (situ).[25]

By 230, Cao Pi had passed away and been replaced by his son, Cao Rui. Around this time, a group of scholars began to gather influence within the court. Dong Zhao sent a memorial to Cao Rui harshly criticizing these men.[26]

"Of all those who have ruled over the empire there has been none who did not appreciate men of simplicity and truthfulness, and profoundly dislike those who were false and untruthful. This is because the latter would demolish good teachings, disturb good rule, destroy good custom, and injure good transformation. In recent years, Wei Feng[27] was put to death at the end of the Jian-an period and Cao Wei suffered the punishment of death at the beginning of the Huang-chu period. I respectfully observe that the sacred edicts, ancient and modern, expressed deep hatred for superficiality and falsity, to the extent of gnashing the teeth, the intention being to destroy and scatter wicked partisanship. Yet the officials in charge of the law all stand in fear of their power and influence, and so are unable to eliminate them. The destruction of good custom has thus reached an extreme degree.

I presume to observe that young men of our times do not consider study as their fundamental duty but make it their exclusive business to form associations. These gentlemen of the land do not take filial piety, brotherly affections, and the cultivation of character as the paramount matter, but put first running after the powerful and associating with those who might give them profit. They form groups and associate into parties, mutually praising and eulogizing; calumny and defamation are considered as capital punishment, partisan commendation and praise as rank and reward. Those who follow they praise vociferously; those who do not, they find fault with. They go so far as to say to each other, 'Why worry that we cannot make our lives and careers good? Worry only lest we should not be assiduous in the 'way' of searching out people and not extensive in spreading out out net. Why should any man worry that other people do not appreciate him? He only needs to make them swallow our medicine to make them affable.'

I am also told there are those who even let their servants and retainers presumptuously assume official titles in their houses; and under these false titles they go to and from the palace, take letters back and forth, and make inquires.

All these are things which laws do not permit and which are unpardonable with respect to punishment. Even the crimes of Wei Feng and Cao Wei are not worse than these."
[28]

Cao Rui took Dong Zhao's words to heart and dismissed all of these individuals from office.[29]

It is worth noting that the individuals who drew Dong Zhao's intense hatred later became advisers to Cao Shuang. They were known for bribery, corruption, incompetence, and for abusing Cao Shuang's authority for personal gain. In 249, most of them were killed by Sima Yi along with Cao Shuang. Allegedly, they plotted to overthrow then-emperor Cao Fang.

In 232, Dong Zhao's position of Minister over the Masses [situ] became official[30].

In 236, on July 4, Dong Zhao passed away at the age of 82. He was known as the “Constant Marquis”.[31]

Dong Zhao's contributions were absolutely essential to the rise of Wei. It was thanks to his help, unsolicited and unexpected, that Cao Cao was able to come into possession of Emperor Xian so easily. Dong Zhao continued to serve and advise the Cao family for many years, his wisdom preventing many potential disasters. He rose to become one of the Three Excellencies and became one of the most respected people in the empire.

Notes
[1] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 155
[2] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 155
[3] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 156
[4] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 156
[5] Chuping 3, JJ
[6] It is worth noting that one of Yang Feng's officers was Xu Huang, who later became one of the five most respected generals of Cao Cao's army, considered the equivalent of Zhang Liao, Yue Jin, Zhang He, and Yu Jin. According to Xu Huang's sanguozhi biography, he also advised Yang Feng to make friends with Cao Cao.
[7] Jian'an 1, M
[8] Jian'an 1, P
[9] Jian'an 1, V
[10] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 156
[11] Jian'an 1, AA
[12] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 156
[13] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 156
[14] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 156
[15] This debate if found in Jian'an 17, K
[16] This account draws largely from the Chronicles of Emperor Xian [xuandi chunqiu] and is often regarded as the correct version of events. It is worth noting that the Chronicles of Emperor Xian was written by a man named Yuan Wei. Yuan Wei was not held in very high regard by the respected commentator Pei Songzhi. For an example of Pei Songzhi's distaste for Yuan Wei, observe the biography of Xun Yu (Wenruo). Pei Songzhi quotes a passage from Yuan Wei's work and ends his own commentary on it by saying “All tales of this sort are taken from folk legends. It can be said that this is a gentleman’s language twisted to libel against a gentleman! Of all the falsehoods written by Yuan Wei, this is the most despicable.”
[17] This version is presented in de Crespigny's note17 of Jian'an 17, where he says it is drawn from the account of this debate found in Dong Zhao's sanguozhi biography.
[18] Jian'an 20, H
[19] This memorial is quoted by Pei Songzhi in the biography of Zhang Lu.
[20] That is, the marriage alliance that was formed almost 20 years previously, in the year 200 when Cao Cao's relative married Sun Quan's younger brother, Sun Kuang and the daughter of Sun Quan's cousin, Sun Ben, married Cao Cao's son, Cao Zhang.
[21] Jian'an 24, CC
[22] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 156
[23] Huangchu 3, 37
[24] Huanchu 4, 5
[25] Taihe 4, 2 gives his rank as such.
[26] These men were: Deng Yang, Zhuge Dan, Xiahou Xuan, Li Sheng (twelve others)
[27] Wei Feng was appointed Senior Clerk of the Department of the West by Zhong Yao. He later conspired to throw a coup at Ye city but was betrayed and killed. Zhong Yao, in spite of his long service to Cao Cao, was removed from office for his part in these events.
[28] This memorial is quoted in Taihe 4, 3
[29] Taihe 4, 4
[30] Taihe 6, 9
[31] Qinglong 4, 5
Last edited by capnnerefir on Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Jordan » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:59 am

It's good but:

It is worth noting that the individuals who drew Dong Zhao's intense hatred later became advisers to the reviled Cao Shuang. They were known for bribery, corruption, incompetence, and for abusing Cao Shuang's authority for personal gain. In 249, most of them were killed by Sima Yi along with Cao Shuang. Allegedly, they plotted to overthrow then-emperor Cao Fang.


:|

I like everything else though. I feel that you should tone down some of the adjectives and adopt a more neutral tone with some of the things you say, or at least provide evidence if you're going to use such strong words.
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Re: Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Wed Mar 13, 2013 2:43 pm

Jordan wrote:It's good but:

It is worth noting that the individuals who drew Dong Zhao's intense hatred later became advisers to the reviled Cao Shuang. They were known for bribery, corruption, incompetence, and for abusing Cao Shuang's authority for personal gain. In 249, most of them were killed by Sima Yi along with Cao Shuang. Allegedly, they plotted to overthrow then-emperor Cao Fang.


:|

I like everything else though. I feel that you should tone down some of the adjectives and adopt a more neutral tone with some of the things you say, or at least provide evidence if you're going to use such strong words.


Mu apologies. I thought it was generally accepted that Cao Shuang's group was guilty of such behavior and didn't think citation was needed. I was under the impression that those accusations were along the same line as calling Sun Hao or Dong Zhuo tyrannical sociopaths. Since you seem to think it is necessary, though, I'll work on a revision to cite the misdeeds of Cao Shuang's party.
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Re: Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:09 pm

Dong Zhao was truly a political genius! I had no idea he kept company with Zhang Yang for such an extended period of time and while working for Zhang Yang still worked to help Cao Cao. What a bold and possibly disastrous decision to forge a letter from a Lord of the Realm to other Lords of the Realm. A very curious and assertive character, make no mistake.

I would be curious though if he had not been invited by Cao Cao to his court could he have prevented Zhang Yang from being executed by his own men? For all intents and purposes he seemed Zhang Yang's head advisor.
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Re: Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Jordan » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:19 am

Mu apologies. I thought it was generally accepted that Cao Shuang's group was guilty of such behavior and didn't think citation was needed. I was under the impression that those accusations were along the same line as calling Sun Hao or Dong Zhuo tyrannical sociopaths. Since you seem to think it is necessary, though, I'll work on a revision to cite the misdeeds of Cao Shuang's party.


Nothing is established without some kind of evidence, and using words such as "reviled" clouds the neutrality of a scholarly work. Even in the cases of Sun Hao and Dong Zhuo it's necessary to indicate ways in which they were tyrannical rather than just stating they were tyrannical, as the statement is not self-explanatory. How were they tyrannical? Were they always tyrannical? Was everything they did tyrannical or was there justification for some of their actions? How did their opponents, predecessors, successors, etc. compare (were they equally despotic or less so, and in what ways?)?

If you use strong language, it is crucial that you back it up. For example, you throw around the term incompetence but can this term justly be applied to all the personages you mentioned? If so, why?
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Re: Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Thu Mar 14, 2013 2:29 pm

Jordan wrote:If you use strong language, it is crucial that you back it up. For example, you throw around the term incompetence but can this term justly be applied to all the personages you mentioned? If so, why?

*shrug* Fair enough. I'll work on a rap sheet for them and I'll be sure to let you know when I append it to this biography.
Xu Yuan wrote:I would be curious though if he had not been invited by Cao Cao to his court could he have prevented Zhang Yang from being executed by his own men? For all intents and purposes he seemed Zhang Yang's head advisor.

From what I understand, Zhang Yang was killed because he wanted to support Lu Bu against Cao Cao and some of his people didn't like that. Given Dong Zhao's very pro-Cao Cao stance, he'd probably have advised Zhang Yang against that and if he listened, he wouldn't have had that revolt on his hands. So yeah, I think Dong Zhao could have fixed that for him. *nodnod*
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Re: Dong Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:18 am

I've replaced the previous biography with an updated one. Now that I have de Crespigny's biographical dictionary, I was able to add a lot of information to Dong Zhao's early life.

I also altered some of the language I used when referring to Cao Shuang and his buddies. Though if anyone is curious about their alleged crimes, I have gone into that in detail in my He Yan biography - which is surprisingly positive in tone, all things considered.
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