Strategy 12 -Seize the Opportunity to Lead the Sheep Away

2011-11-25 16:21 ChineseTime


Seize the Opportunity to Lead the Sheep Away

shùn shǒu qiān yáng 顺手牵羊

   Originally it means to steal something when the opportunity presents itself. Here it means to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, no matter how small, and to profit from it. 

  In 354 BC, King Wei Huei was planning to launch an attack on Jhao, a country north of Wei. He appointed Pang-Juan as his general. Two years later the Wei army fought its way to Handan (city in Hebei), the capital of Jhao, and laid a siege outside the city walls. Jhao was desperate, so the king of Jhao appealed to Chu for help. At that time, Chu was a country with a strong military. 
  After hearing Jhao's appeal for help, the prime minister of Chu advised against coming to Jhao's aid, but another advisor Jing She thought otherwise. Jing She was in favor of sending the troops. He proposed a strategy by which under the pretext of rescuing Jhao, they could undermine the strength of Wei while profiting from Chu.
  So the king of Chu appointed Jing She as the general of the army. In the name of rescuing Jhao, the Chu army entered Jhao. Soon Handan (city in Hebei) was seized by the Wei general Pang-Juan. But immediately, news came that the capital of Wei was under siege by the Ci army. So Pang-Juan hastily left Handan (city in Hebei) and retreated immediately to defend Wei's capital. However, the Wei troops were ambushed on their way back by the Ci army and suffered heavy losses.
  Both Wei and Jhao had been hurt badly in this episode and are in no position to fight again in the near term. This presented Chu with a golden opportunity. Since the Chu army was already in Jhao, Jing She quickly seized the southern part of Jhao, and there was nothing Jhao could do. As a result, Jing She's tactic of "Stealing a goat along the way" proved to be a big success.
  The appeal for help from Jhao provided a pretext for Chu to legitimately enter Jhao with its troops. Coupled with the unexpected event of the attack on the capital of Wei by the Ci army while the bulk of Wei's army was laying siege to Jhao, this was a great opportunity for Chu to seize more land from Jhao without having to fight for it. The "goat" in this strategy refers to the territory of Jhao.

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