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草木皆兵【cǎo mù jiē bīng】

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In the East Jin period, Fu Jian, the King of Qian Qin, led a military with a million soldiers to attack the East Jin, whereas the East Jin only had eighty thousand soldiers. Xie An, the general of the East Jin, came up with an idea. Firstly, he asked people to spread rumours that the army of the East Jin had shortages of supplies and soldiers. After knowing that, Fu Jian judged that his enemy may escape, so he picked eight thousand outstanding soldiers and headed to the headquarters of the East Jin. Meanwhile, the remaining troops suffered a surprise attack from Xie An, causing 15,000 casualties. Fu Jian was shocked when he heard the news, so he decided to return. When Fu Jian reached a river, he saw many military ships with soldiers guarding, as he looked further at the Ba Gong Mountain, grasses and trees were blown by the wind, which seemed like soldiers in training. Fu Jian said terrifyingly, “Who said the East Jin had no soldiers? It’s a strong army!” 

[Annotation] 皆: All. 

[Definition] Refers to people making wrong judgements/losing their minds when they are in a panic.


* If you are interested in Chinese folk tales or ghost stories, have a look at: https://chinesestoriesfolktales.quora.com

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