Governmental Role in Economy and Commerce Across Chinese History

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Governmental Role in Economy and Commerce Across Chinese History
Throughout Chinese history, the appropriate role government should play in economy and commerce has been a prevailing question that always incurs debates and disagreement. Over the centuries, a wide range of different opinions—from one-sided view to relatively neutral position—prevails. Each point of view contains its own unique understanding and suggestions on the issue of governing the economy. Despite of the variety of views, the grounds that those arguments based on are less diverse—from either an ideological or practical perspective.
From the early stage of Chinese history, absolute unanimity was rarely found in the issue regarding governing the economy and commerce. In fact, disagreements or ambivalent views prevail. For example, Discourse on Salt and Iron from Han dynasty reveals, officers believe government interventions in industry like salt and iron are beneficial to the welfare of the entire country and “are intended to circulate accumulated wealth and to regulate consumption according to the urgency of need” (Ebrey, Chinese Civilization 63). As each side lists either the benefit or the shortcomings, it is clear that the learnt men and the minister hold completely different perspectives with learnt men oppose effective government regulation whereas the officer supports. As the record of this debate contains twenty-four chapters and the first chapter included in Chinese Civilization contains four pages (Ebrey 60), it is reasonably to infer that not only there is disagreement, but also that level of dissention was intense.
On the other side, in the Discourse on Salt and Iron (Ebrey 60-63) reveals the opposition to governmental monopolies in salt and iron and almost all government intervention. Scholars or “the learned men” believes that “These matters [economy and commerce] should not…...

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