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Governing a large state is like cooking a small fish: it must be handled with great care.

The adage "governing a large state is like cooking a small fish" came from Daodejing by Lao Zi, an ancient Chinese thinker. Just as cooking a small fish requires careful heat control, right seasoning, and a minimal amount of stirring, so governing a large state is a delicate balancing act that must be performed with the highest level of care. Responding to a question from a Brazilian reporter in March 2013, President Xi Jinping said that leaders must develop a clear understanding of the complexity of their country’s realities and the diversified needs of their people. They must, he continued, be aware that governing a country is like “treading on thin ice or standing upon the edge of an abyss.” It was essential, he added, to exercise extreme care and due diligence all the time in performing government functions in the same manner as we cook a small fish.

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