The rulers of the early Han Dynasty learned the lessons from the extermination of Qin and applied a rehabilitation policy.
The tyranny and turmoil at the end of the Qin Dynasty had left a poor economic situation for the early Han Dynasty. The rulers of the early Han Dynasty learned the lessons from the extermination of Qin and applied a rehabilitation policy.
During the period of Emperor Wendi and Emperor Jingdi, the economy recovered and society stabilized, beginning the first peaceful period in Chinese ancient history. Based on this, Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty displayed his grand talents for further exploitation and development and reached the culmination of the Western Han.
The Western Han continued Qins basic grand unification policy while abolishing its tyranny. Moreover, some adjustments and renewals were made, further consolidating and developing the layout of the unified multiethnic country initiated by Qin.
Economically, rehabilitation was practiced with policies of reducing taxation and corvee, and awarding production. Liu Bang, Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty, promulgated a range of favored measures including releasing soldiers to farming fields, offering amnesty and enlistment of refugees, freeing servants and maids to suitable places, reducing and exempting corvee and setting the land rent at 1/15, resulting in a mass movement of population back to agricultural production. Emperor Wendi applied agricultural and textile development to evaluate local officials and reduced the land rent to 1/30. These measures pushed the rapid recovery and development of agriculture Emperor Wudi further promoted the official monopoly of salt and iron, collected industrial and commercial taxes, established buffer institutions to control prices, unified the currency, prohibited private coin casting and implemented other financial reforms. Thus, the country firmly grasped the economy and increased financial income, laying a solid economic foundation for a grand unified empire.
2 State regime
As for the state regime, the Western Han Dynasty experienced a process of ups and downs. In the early Han Dynasty, Liu Bang awarded some ministers with grand feats as vassals from different families. Fief and prefecture organization coexisted. The area of seven vassals' fiefs equaled half of the territory of the Western Han Dynasty. They had the in own troops and constituted a threat to the imperial power.
3 Politics: supervision system and recommendation system
The supervision system was an important part of the centralized political system and was greatly strengthened in the Han Dynasty Emperor Wudi of the Han Dy nasty established a position of Silixiaowei at the central level to supervise the behavior of officials and imperial members. He also divided the country into 13 supervision areas, which were called "13 state-departments,"and sent one Cishi to each state-department to inspect local officials, curb and attack the illegally rich people on behalf of the central government. Thus, the centralized regime was enhanced.
The rulers of the Han Dynasty practiced the recommendation system. The local officials recommended talents to the court, which appointed the recommended persons according to their capabilities with examination. The government enrolled persons with special reputations and capabilities to officiate in the court, which was named Zheng (enrollment). The practice under which a senior official recruited his subordinates was named Pi. The official selection system attached more importance to the capabilities of the recommended but could easily cause cronyism, consequently giving rise to phenomena such as the recommended scholar could not read and the recommended Xiaolian (filial to one's parents and clean as an official) did not live with his parents.
To avoid decades of governance of an official in a local place that might resulted in corruption or setup of a separate regime, the Han Dynasty set years of terms for major local officials, and the officials' origins and any blood relations with their superior leaders would be considered as well.
4 Ideology: exclusive reverence of Confucianism
The prevailing quiet and inactive Huangdi and Lao Tze Doctrine in early Han Dynasty had a loose ideological space, which was a departure from the growing centralization. The political situation during the reign of Emperor Wudi was stable, and the national power was strong. Hence, ideological control was strengthened. Emperor Wudi adopted Dong Zhongshu's suggestion of "rejection of various philosophical schools and exclusive reverence of Confucianism." Confucianism, which propagated centralized rule, obtained the position of the dominant official ideology. The policy penetrated into politics, ideology, culture and education, helping consolidate the centralization and attack local regimes. It had a far-reaching influence on intensifying the power of concentration of Chinese culture and the monarch's control of popular thought.
The renovation measures concerning politics, economy, ideology and other aspects implemented by Emperor Wudi based on actual situation proved quite fruitful and drove forward the development of the unified multiethnic country initiated by Qin.