Friday, January 7, 2011

An Army On Parade For 2000 Years Part.III

But in exchange they faced heavy taxation and were forced into hard unpaid labor on large scale public works. Initially, these policies brought wealth and power, and when Zheng took the throne of Qin he continued his predecessors’ polices. By 221 BC he had conquered and absorbed all the warring states.  From his capital at Xianyang, he set about the task of universally imposing the reforms that had made Qin such a success.

Looking back to China’s past, he adopted an ancient title, “Huang Di”, or ‘August Lord”, and ordered the prefix ‘Shi”. Shi Huang Di saw himself as China’s first emperor, the founder of a new imperial line.  In a bid to unify the empire, he imposed many forms of standardization. A single axle width was set for wheeled transport, to ensure that ruts worn into the roads matched all vehicles.

The numerous styles of Chinese script were consolidated into a single, standard version, encouraging the exchange of knowledge, and the various coinage system were phased out in favor of a universal currency.  The emperor also created more than 6000 Km of new roads across the empire, branching out from the imperial capital. Internal and foreign trade prospered, and foundations were laid for the flourishing networks that would later carry Chinese silk across Central Asia to the West.

The peasants were the backbone of the Chinese state, and improving agricultural productivity was a major state concern. Shi Huang Di forcibly relocated large numbers of farming families from populous or troublesome regions into areas where he wished to promote agriculture and settlement.


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