Great Unity

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Great Unity
Chinese 大同

The Great Unity (Chinese: 大同; pinyin: dàtóng) is a Chinese utopian vision of the world in which everyone and everything is at peace. It is found in classical Chinese philosophy which has been invoked many times in the modern history of China.


The notion of the "Great Unity" appeared in the "Lǐyùn" (禮運) chapter of the Book of Rites, one of the Confucian Chinese classics.[1][2] According to it, the society in Great Unity was ruled by the public, where the people chose men of virtue and ability, and valued trust and harmony. People did not only love their own parents and children, but also secured the living of the elderly until their ends, let the adults be of use to the society, and helped the young grow. Those who were widowed, orphaned, childless, handicapped and diseased were all taken care of. Men took their responsibilities and women had their homes. People disliked seeing resources being wasted but did not seek to possess them; they wanted to exert their strength but did not do it for their own benefit. Therefore, selfish thoughts were dismissed, people refrained from stealing and robbery, and the outer doors remained open.[3]

The concept was used by Kang Youwei in his visionary utopian treatise, The Book of Great Unity (Chinese: 大同書).[4]

The Great Unity is also often mentioned in the writings of Sun Yat-sen and is included in the lyrics of the National Anthem of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

This ideology can be reflected in the following examples, both Taiwanese anthems:

  • 「三民主義,吾黨所宗,以建民國,以進大同。」 (literal translation: "Three Principles of the People, the aim of us, to build the Republic, to advance into Great Unity.") - National Anthem of the Republic of China
  • 「毋自暴自棄,毋故步自封,光我民族,促進大同。」(literal translation: "Never abandon in desperation, nor being complacent with achievement; Glorify our nation and work promoting Great Unity.") - National Flag Anthem of the Republic of China

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pearce 2001, 169.
  2. ^ Cheng 2009, 19.
  3. ^ Book of Rites, Li Yun chapter, paragraph 1. 
  4. ^ Chen, Albert H. Y., The Concept of 'Datong' in Chinese Philosophy as an Expression of the Idea of the Common Good (November 11, 2011). University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2011/020. Available at SSRN: "In the early twentieth century, the great Chinese thinker and reformer Kang Youwei wrote a book entitled Datong shu (Book on the Great Community) in which he put forward an original and radical interpretation of 'datong'."


  • Cheng, Chung-ying (2009). "On harmony as transformation: Paradigms from the Yijing". Philosophy of the Yi: Unity and dialectics. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781444334111. 
  • Pearce, Scott (2001). "Form and matter: Archaizing reform in sixth-century China". Culture and power in the reconstitution of the Chinese realm, 200-600. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674005235.