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The Qin Dynasty (page 2)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

Changes to the Government

The Qin dynasty can accurately be described as a totalitarian state, albeit an efficient one—thus exemplifying the positive and negative implications of the Legalist position. On the positive side, Zheng created a modern bureaucracy that could administer a large empire and established a uniform system of writing that enabled local officials to communicate easily with those in the capital. Perhaps more importantly, China was now a unified empire, without the inter- kingdom squabbling that had characterized the Warring States period. Apart from a relatively short era following the Han dynasty, China has continued as a unified state down to the present day.

On the negative side, Zheng tolerated no opposition to his government. He literally wiped out all those who spoke out against the government; they were either deported, murdered, or imprisoned. Zheng also ordered the forced relocation of massive numbers of peasants to new territories captured by the army. The impressive system of Chinese roads and the Great Wall of China were built by compulsory unpaid labor.

The repressive policies of the Qin dynasty made it so unpopular that it col- lapsed soon after the death of Zheng. His successor was weak and ineffectual, and China soon found itself in the midst of a civil war that pitted aristocrats and Legalists against Confucianists and commoners. Liu Bang, a commoner who had risen through the ranks of the army, became the leader of the latter group; he led his supporters to victory in 202 BC and became the first emperor of the Han dynasty under the name Han Gao-zu.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at: 

Early Asian Empires Practice Test

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