The Web site where I found this expression said that it dated back to President
Theodore Roosevelt's Third Annual Message to Congress on Dec 7, 1903. If so, it
is young and maybe not time-tested enough to qualify for a proverb.
Its sentiment, however, must have endured eons. For the Chinese, its execution
depends less on people's faith in impersonal systems, but incarnates in rare
individuals, e.g., Mr. Bao, a bureaucrat in the Song Dynasty.