Han Fei was a disciple of the Confucian philosopher Xun Xi. He synthesized the ideas of earlier legalist thinkers on authority and legitimacy and created a political theory based on three principles:
Fa: Law or principle. The law code must be clearly written and made public. All people under the ruler were equal before the law. Laws should reward those who obey them and severely punish those who break them. The system of law runs the state, rather than the ruler himself. If the law is successfully enforced, even a weak ruler will be strong.
Shu: Method, tactic, or art. A bureaucratic administration under the control of the ruler enforces the laws and runs the state. The ruler employs special techniques to ensure that administrators carry out their duties without abusing their positions. The emperor maintains a balance of power by concealing his personal intentions, so that the laws are the primary model of behavior.
Shi: Legitimacy, power, or charisma. It is the position of the ruler, not the man himself, that holds power and authority. A ruler should practice “emptiness” to allow the natural order of things to rule.