The Qin gained power in 221 BC; they existed during the Warring State Period and were the first to unify China. Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor, set the tradition for having emperors as rulers in China. Notably, the Qin was militarily the strongest, but not culturally advanced. They introduced new technologies, cavalry in particular. In addition, they integrated numerous changed aimed at unifying China. They implemented a Legalist form of government, divided territory into counties, appointed civil governors, military commanders, and imperial inspectors. This system of government also involved rewards and punishments to preserve order in the country. There was no nobility and the state had full control over the people.
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Among the numerous achievements of the Qin were standardized language and writing. This was done to implement the countrywide way of communication. Currency and measurements were also standardized to avoid potential misunderstandings among the counties. The Qin supported public projects and built the Great Wall to protect the borders against invasions. They built roads and irrigation canals.
Despite of all accomplishments, the First Emperor was not popular and had no public support. Population was burdened with heavy taxes and public works. Nobility disliked Shi Huangdi because he deprived them of all their power. In addition, he banned all books covering forms of government other than set in China. The rule of the Qin came to an end right after the death of the First Emperor. His son took the throne but was quickly overthrown by the Han dynasty.
The Han Empire began when the Prince of the Han, Liu Bang, defeated the Qin army. Historians attribute this defeat to the larger rebellion that began throughout China right after the death of the First Emperor. People were dissatisfied with the ruling of the Qin leaders and the form of government they introduced. The Han were expected to introduce the new form of government; however, the popular expectations were not met. The Han continued the traditional government of the Qin; nevertheless, some of Confucian ideals were gradually incorporated. The Han Empire thrived for about four hundred years because the Han contributed to the economic expansion, strengthened the palace, changed the relationships with the people, and weakened the control over the peasantry.
Unlike the Qin, the Han were more open to the needs and wants of the people. The ruler used punishment for people as well as the officials. The Han ruling was based on relative justice. It was believed that the force was not sufficient to rule and the ruler was expected to guide the people morally. Such policy was more favored by people compared to the authoritarian rule of the Qin. The Han supported the initiative of the Qin to unify China and to create strong military capable of protecting the borders against invasions. Moreover, approximately two million people were forced to move to unpopulated regions. The expansion of the territory and colonization led to establishment of the long-term trade with Asia and development of the trade networks.
Finally, the Han dynasty was more successfully because more attention was paid to education. While the Qin executed the great thinkers promoting new ideas, the Han provided support to innovators. As the result, many encyclopedias were compiled; the significant progress in all areas (agriculture, technology, government, etc.) followed. Moreover, the Han dynasty was successful with the foreign policy and managed to build productive relationships with neighboring countries. With the death of the Emperor, the economic and political struggles arose throughout China and eventually led to the division of the country into three kingdoms. The Han dynasty came to an end after more than four hundred years of successful ruling; nevertheless, the achievements of the Han still amaze the historians.