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Chapter 397: The Plan to Swallow a Nation Unfolds Once Again!
“Your Majesty, this is a great opportunity!” The Minister of Personnel, Gao Tianyao, was the first to speak enthusiastically. He said, “After experiencing the disaster of the ice, the White Elephant Kingdom has weakened, facing internal strife and chaos. The imperial court is powerless to control the situation. They’ve requested military aid, and this is our chance! We only need to send 300,000 troops, and we can conquer everything! This will not only establish our dominance but also secure annual tributes from the White Elephant Kingdom. It’s a profitable deal!”
“Yes, it’s a profitable deal!” Others chimed in. “Please, Your Majesty, send our troops to support the White Elephant court!”
Minister Gao’s supporters continued to voice their opinions.
“Your Majesty, I have a different perspective,” the Minister of War, Li Kaiguang, turned to the Empress and said, “Your Majesty, I believe that this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate the White Elephant Kingdom into our territory. Currently, the White Elephant Kingdom is in chaos, with uprisings among the people. Their court can’t quell the rebellion. Therefore, they seek our help. We can pretend to be allies, gain their trust, and then launch an attack to bring them under our rule, expanding our borders. This is an opportunity we shouldn’t miss!”
“Minister Li is absolutely right. This is the time to use military force!” Others supported his view. “This opportunity is too rare; it’s like a gift from heaven. We must seize it!”
“Your Majesty, please think carefully!”
The ministers, military officials, and courtiers offered their opinions.
“Minister Li, the use of military force is quite risky!” The Minister of Revenue, Qian Sushen, immediately countered, “If we invade the White Elephant Kingdom as you suggest, we may indeed have a chance to expand our territory, but the cost will be high. It’s an unjust war, and we’ll face resistance not only from the White Elephant court but also from their people, who will see us as enemies. We are already focusing on domestic production; diverting our resources to another country is not advisable. Furthermore, neighboring powers like Great Yan and Dayue are watching closely and won’t let us expand so easily. They’ll likely join the conflict, and we’ll be caught in a two-front war, leading to inevitable defeat.”
“So, either we send troops to aid the White Elephant court, minimizing our losses and securing benefits, or we refrain from military intervention and let them fight amongst themselves while we profit from the situation. Your Majesty, please consider this carefully!”
“Please, Your Majesty, think it over!” The Minister of Revenue’s officials echoed his sentiments.
“Ministers, you all make valid points,” the Empress nodded. She was clearly torn.
It was evident that sending troops to help the White Elephant court suppress domestic rebellion was the option with the least sacrifice and the most stability. Success would mean gaining a submissive nation and annual tributes.
But the opportunity to expand our territory is indeed rare. The White Elephant Kingdom is in turmoil, and our neighboring countries are preoccupied. When else should we act?
If we miss this chance, we might not get another like it! However, this plan carries a higher risk and substantial cost. That’s why the Empress has been hesitant.
As a result, she thought of someone.
This person is quite versatile; he can manage the court internally and lead armies externally. When all else fails, she turns to the Prime Minister! When it comes to war, he can’t go wrong.
“Prime Minister Lin, do you have any thoughts? Please share them with me.”
Lin Beifan smiled faintly and said, “Your Majesty, your hesitation stems from a desire to gain the maximum benefit at minimal cost. If we can conquer the White Elephant Kingdom with minimal losses, that would be ideal, wouldn’t it?”
The Empress’s eyes lit up. “Minister Lin, your words are spot on. Is there a way?”
“I do have an idea that might work!”
The Empress’s eyes brightened even further. Could it really be?
The courtiers were astonished. How could this be possible?
The Empress urged, “Minister, please share your idea!”
“Your Majesty, please wait. I’ll explain!” Lin Beifan raised three fingers. “When we send troops to conquer another nation, we’re essentially pursuing three objectives: land, wealth, and population.” The courtiers nodded, listening intently.
“The traditional approach is to lead armies into battle. Once we capture the land, the wealth and population on that land naturally become ours. However, this approach would come at a significant cost, and I believe everyone understands the magnitude of that cost.” The courtiers nodded once again.
“However, the current situation is unique. The White Elephant Kingdom is in chaos, and our neighboring powers are preoccupied. This situation presents a rare opportunity that greatly favors our nation.”
“We can take a different approach: first, acquire their population, then their wealth, and finally, conquer the entire territory. This way, the cost we pay will be significantly less.”
The Empress couldn’t contain her excitement. “Prime Minister Lin, how can we do this?”
“It’s quite simple!” Lin Beifan smiled. “Your Majesty, our first step would be to open our borders and welcome the White Elephant Kingdom’s people into our territory to work and contribute. This alone will address the first problem.”
Lin Beifan had to explain further. “Your Majesty, the reason the White Elephant people are rebelling isn’t just because they’re angry with their inept government or because they’ve suffered after the ice disaster. The most critical factor is that they have no future, no prospects. They are cornered, with no other choices.”
The Empress and the courtiers pondered this.
“From what I’ve learned, there are already 50,000-60,000 White Elephant people living within our borders, primarily near the western frontier. This data ranks highly among various border regions. It shows that they can’t survive in their homeland and have been forced to leave.”
The Empress and the courtiers were intrigued.
“If we open our borders now, more White Elephant people will undoubtedly flock to our territory. The Wuxi region, which is close to the White Elephant Kingdom, is vast and sparsely populated, capable of accommodating the entire White Elephant population comfortably.”
“Previously, the Wuxi region was barren, with many areas unsuitable for farming. But now, things have changed! We have Taiping rice, which can be cultivated in many places where it was impossible before. The only thing lacking is people! If we bring the White Elephant people here, many of the wastelands in Wuxi will turn into fertile fields, and food production will undoubtedly increase!”
“Then, we can provide them with some citizen benefits, and they will surely be grateful! This way, they won’t go hungry, and they can live and work happily in Great Wu. In two or three years, won’t they become our citizens?”
Lin Beifan chuckled confidently, “We won’t even need to fight; we can attract the White Elephant people to join us willingly. They’ll be thankful and willing to work hard for us. Isn’t that ideal?”
Everyone’s eyes lit up, and they agreed, “Yes!”
“What about the wealth of the White Elephant Kingdom?” one minister asked.
Lin Beifan inquired, “What does their diplomatic message say?”
“The White Elephant Kingdom asked for our military support to quell the rebellion. If we succeed, they will submit to our rule and pay annual tributes.”
Lin Beifan spread his hands and explained, “We’re just helping them solve their problems, right? As long as we bring the White Elephant people into our country to develop and cultivate the land, they won’t be able to cause trouble in their own country, which is now sparsely populated. Once the issue is resolved, as stated in their diplomatic message, won’t they have to pay tribute and offer us their wealth?”
Everyone’s eyes brightened once again, and they agreed, “Yes!”
“What about the land?”
“That’s even simpler,” Lin Beifan grinned mischievously. “Most of the White Elephant people will have joined us, so who will be left to farm their land? By that time, their national wealth will undoubtedly decrease.”
“And at this time, we’ll demand their tribute without compromise. They’ll be helpless due to our strength, forced to exploit their remaining population. The people will surely resent this, leading to another rebellion.”
“At this point, when they see the White Elephant people living prosperously in Great Wu, they will be envious. That’s when we march in, and they will open their doors willingly, cooperating from within and without.”
“In this way…” Lin Beifan smiled confidently, “a scene like the Darro Kingdom is bound to repeat itself – we’ll conquer without a fight! With minimal cost, we’ll take the White Elephant Kingdom!”
The Empress and the entire court were left speechless, staring at Lin Beifan in awe. After a while, the court began to applaud, initially slowly and gradually increasing in volume until it became thunderous applause.
The Empress clapped her hands while deeply impressed. “Prime Minister Lin, this strategy is truly ingenious! Just like your plan to swallow the Python, it’s a stroke of genius! Although we haven’t implemented it yet, I already feel that it’s highly likely to succeed. Minister Lin, it can only be you who could come up with such a brilliant plan!”
“Thank you, Your Majesty, for your praise. I humbly accept it,” Lin Beifan replied modestly. Knowing when to show off and when to be humble is an essential quality for someone who has traveled to another world.
The Empress asked, “What do you think, dear ministers? I find this plan marvelous. Do any of you have objections?” The courtiers collectively responded, “We have no objections, Your Majesty!”
The Empress clapped her thigh and said, “Excellent! Let’s proceed with this plan! I shall name it the ‘Swallowing the Elephant’ strategy, and Minister Lin will be in charge! All of you, dear ministers, must support it wholeheartedly and ensure there are no mistakes. Do you understand?”
“We shall follow Your Majesty’s orders!” The courtiers echoed in unison.