Guo Ziyi Acted Generously and with Integrity
In the Tang Dynasty, Guo Ziyi (697 – 781 AD) spent his entire life in the army. He performed admirably in the pacification of the An Lushan Rebellion and in battles against invasions by other countries. However, he never bragged about his accomplishments, and he was patriotic and loyal to his country. He treated people with tolerance and generosity, thus gaining high prestige. When the An Lushan Rebellion broke out, Emperor Tang Suzong (711 – 762 AD) selected Guo Ziyi to be the army’s commander-in-chief. After many difficulties, Guo Ziyi finally led his troops to re-take two major cities, Luoyang and Chang’an. Tang Suzong said to him, “Although this country is mine, it was indeed you who rebuilt it.”
When General Pugu Huai’en rebelled against the emperor, he led 100,000 soldiers, including his own Shuofang Army along with Uighur and Tibetan troops, to attack the capital. During this critical period, the emperor promoted Guo Ziyi to several key government positions in addition to his military role.
Guo Ziyi had never used wars and winning battles as routes to promotions and wealth. He firmly declined most of the promotions, choosing to keep a mid-level position only. He said in his report to the emperor that since the rebellion, fighting for power had become rife in the court and he hoped that virtue and etiquette would emerge again, starting with his example.
Guo Ziyi had once led the Shuofang Army, and the soldiers were still very loyal to him. When Guo Ziyi arrived at the battlefield, many of the Shuofang Army switched sides. When the Uighur and Tibetan soldiers saw this, they retreated without a fight. Pugu Huai’en had to flee the field with his 300 personal corps, and Guo Ziyi returned victorious. Once again, he firmly declined any official titles or promotions bestowed by the imperial court.
When Emperor Daizong (727 – 779 AD) was in power, Pugu Huai’en again attacked Chang’an with 300,000 Uighur, Tibetan, and Dongshun soldiers. The emperor urgently summoned Guo Ziyi to lead 10,000 soldiers to resist the rebels. When Guo and his troops arrived, they were surrounded by more than 100,000 Uighur and Tibetan soldiers.
At that critical point in time, Pugu Huai’en died suddenly. Guo Ziyi then went straight to the Uighur commander by himself and convinced him to side with the Tang army. They defeated the Tibetan troops decisively, and the entire enemy army collapsed. Guo was gracious in victory, and many Uighur and Tibetan people called him a man of divine virtue.
Guo Ziyi set himself as an example with his behavior, and he took good care of the common people. Because of the many years of war, the country was in a depression and people led hard lives. To reduce their burden, he personally led his troops to turn wastelands into farmland. When the soldiers were not at war, they received training but also did agricultural labor. Although it was wartime, the crops were abundant wherever his troops were stationed. As a superior, he was tolerant and adept at developing people. He had over sixty subordinates who were promoted to generals. Guo Ziyi lived a long life with many prosperous descendents. People noted that it was the result of his leniency.