Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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Table of Strategems

See commentary. Adapted from Gao Yuan: Lure the Tiger Out of the Mountains: the thirty-six strategems of Ancient China (London, Piatkus, 1991). For other tables of strategies see: confidence ploys; value-based; typology for sustainable development; strategic dilemmas

Assertion Denial Assertion with denial Neither assertion
nor denial
When holding superiority For confused situations
Invention Cross the sea by fooling the sky [1]

Besiege kingdom A to save kingdom B [2]

Kill with a borrowed knife [3]

Relax while the enemy exhausts himself [4]

Loot a burning house [5]

Make a feint to East while attacking to West [6]

Steal the firewood from under the cauldron [19]

Fish in troubled waters [20]

Slough off the cicada's shell [21]

Shut the door to catch the thief [22]

Befriend distant state while attacking neighbour [23]

Obtain safe passage to conquer the kingdom of A [24]

For confrontation For gaining ground
Rigidity Create something out of nothing [7]

Pretend to take path A while taking path B [8]

Watch the fires burning across the river [9]

Conceal a dagger in a smile [10]

Sacrifice the plum tree for the peach tree [11]

Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat [12]

Replace the beams and pillars with rotten timber [25]

Point at the mulberry and curse the locust [26]

Play dumb while remaining smart [27]

Pull down the ladder after the ascent [28]

Deck the tree with bogus blossoms [29]

Make the host and guest exchange places [30]

For attack For desperate straits
Ambiguity Beat the grass to startle the snake [13]

Raise a corpse from the dead [14]

Lure the tiger out of the mountains [15]

Snag the enemy by letting him off the hook [16]

Cast a brick to attract jade [17]

Catch the ringleader to nab the bandits [18]

Use a woman to ensnare a man [31]

Fling open the gates to the empty city [32]

Let enemy's own spy sow discord in enemy camp [33]

Inflict injury on self to win enemy's trust [34]

Chain together the enemy's warships [35]

Run away [36]