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Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty: The First Emperor in Chinese History 秦始皇:中国历史上第一位皇帝

Profile:Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty: The First Emperor in Chinese History 秦始皇:中国历史上第一位皇帝
Qin was only a small vassal state in west China appointed in 770 B.C. Because of its small area and weak strength, it did not catch the attentions from the vassal states in the central parts. After adopting Shang Yang reform, the small state became increasing stronger and soon became one of the seven powers in the Warring States Period. After King Ying Zheng (259 B.C. - 210 B.C.) came into power, he launched large scale wars. Starting 230 B.C., he used 10 years to conquered states like Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan and Qi and unified China in 221 B.C. Ying Zheng hoped to rule the country for ever and he named himself the "Qin Shi Huang (the First Emperor of Qin Dynasty)," and his descendants could be the second, the third and even the thousandth emperor. So, in history, Ying Zheng was called Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty.
After the Emperor Shihuang reunified China, he adopted a lot of measures to consolidate his rule.
Politically, he established the posts such as prime minister, general supervisor and military commander in the central government. The prime minister helped the emperor deal with political affairs of the state; general supervisor were responsible for supervising all the officials and military commander was in charge of military affairs. The three senior officials were appointed by the emperor. For local government, the emperor divided the country into 36 eparchies (the number was increased to 40 later) and established counties under eparchies. The leaders of the eparchies and counties were directly appointed and removed by the emperor. These leaders were responsible to administrate the people. In this way, the emperor solidly controlled the power throughout the country in the hand.
Economically, the first unified the measurements. In the Warring States Period, the measurements in different states varied. The Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty unified the measurements of length, volume and weight to promote economic development. The Qin Dynasty also unified the currency. The government made the round coin with square hole used in the previous Qin state as the unified currency throughout the country. This move helped greatly in the economic exchanges among various ethnic groups and various regions. The later currency followed the model of Qin coins.
Culturally, the emperor first unified the written system. In the Warring States Period, different states used different written languages. The Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty ordered to unify written systems. The simplified Xiaozhuan font was used nationwide as the standardized font. After that, a new font, Lishu, which was simpler, emerged. Kaishu, a font which we are still using today, was evolved from Lishu. The unification of writing system facilitated cultural exchanges. Then, the emperor strengthened ideological control through burning books and burying scholars. In 213 B.C. Prime Minister Li Si believed that when people read ancient books and got their opinions, they would criticize and comment on the political affairs, which would undermine the ruling of the imperial court. He suggested that common people should only read books on medicines and farming and other books, especially the books on the histories of various states and books of various scholars should be burnt out. The Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty accepted his suggestion. The next year, some scholars talked about his peremptoriness and arbitrariness and his abuse of punishment behind him. He made deep investigation and buried more than 460 people alive. The two events were known as "burning books and burying scholars" in history.
Militarily, the emperor defeated the Hun, had the Great Wall constructed and stabilized the north part; in the south part, the dynasty enhanced exchanges among various ethnic groups.
The Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty reunified China and established the first unified feudal countries with multiple ethnic groups, putting end to the long-term situation of rival principalities tearing apart the country. The Qin Dynasty covered an area from the sea to the east, Longxi to the west, the Great Wall to the north and South China Sea to the south with a population of more than 20 million. However, the Emperor Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty was also a tyrant and his ruthless rule exerted negative influence to Chinese history.


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