Marcus Aurelius is known for his adoption and promotion of stoicism as a philosophy, which he also sought to be applied in the practical sense of governance. He adopted the stance of what Plato called the “philosopher king” a wise leader that understood his people.
Marcus supported the highly rational rule and understood that single rulers have their limits, thus it is necessary to accept help from those that are potentially more knowledgeable and skilled. That is why he virtually co-ruled with his adopted brother Lucius Verus at first who was the military commander at the time, and later co-ruling with his son.
Marcus believed in political freedom, and even though Rome was not a democracy at the time, he embraced many of its principles, giving significant power to the Senate and making them his top advisers in resolving matters of domestic and international importance. However, he always emphasized the importance of treating regular people well and governing with compassion.
Hsun Tzu believed that human nature in its uncultivated state is more prone to evil, so it should be led and cultivated, with an emphasis on the power of ritual. The Chinese political system began to develop on Confucian teachings, which was a moral system, where the primary function of the state was to provide education and improve its people. However, importantly that should not be done via laws and coercion, but through moral example and mediation of conflict.
Rather than establish abstract rules, mediation was emphasized as the key to social harmony. The state was the moral guardian of the population, which was reflected in government institutions through “merit bureaucracy and civil service”, where officials were selected not just on competency but “moral qualities” to rule with a moral prerogative. Therefore, these elements are similar to the philosophical precepts implemented by Marcus Aurelius, with both theories of governance emphasizing the harmony and morality of the ruler.