Yi Zhongtian argued, in the court of Chinese dynasties, Confucianism had been the mainstream ideology of officials conduct and state organizations. As the emperor represents the supreme power, one of duty for Confucianism which had been practiced by most intellectuals was to limit and contain that power. However, it had been a loosing battle, as the gravity of control continuously slid from ministers to the emperor through the thousands of years of history.
It is a very interesting read, and very nicely written. Yi, a scholar made known by his interpretation of ancient novel 'Three Kingdoms', certain has solid research to back up popularity performances.
As a by-product of the reading, it is also interesting to find many practice of the communism regime had deep root in the 5000 years of Chinese culture and philosophy studies.
Chinese intellectuals see the deal as they submit the people (including themselves) to the emperor, while on the other hand, curtail the emperor's power by interpreting the 'Ultimate-rule'. Unfortunately, the chain often failed in the second link. When the emperor asks for loyalty, intellectuals often have no other choice to but to obey, including not to provide interpretations of the 'Ultimate-goal' that is not compatible with the emperor's mind. The dilemma continues to today.