Another new idea, that of meritocracy, led to the introduction of the Imperial examination system in China. This system allowed anyone who passed an examination to become a government officer, a position which would bring wealth and honour to the whole family.
Though the European enthusiasm toward China died away after 1789, China gave Europe one very important practical legacy: the modern civil service. The Chinese examination system seems to have been started in 165 BCE, when certain candidates for public office were called to the Chinese capital for examination of their moral excellence by the emperor.
Over the following centuries the system grew until finally almost anyone who wished to become an official had to prove his worth by passing written government examinations.
Confucius praised those kings who left their kingdoms to those apparently most qualified rather than to their elder sons.