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China Milestone Events(Unforgettable Events of History) Emperor Qinshihuang’s Policymaking of Burning Books and Burying Confucians
Emperor Qinshihuang’s Policymaking of Burning Books and Burying Confucians

After the establishment of Qin Dynasty, for uniting the ideological zone, Emperor Qinshihuang took great measures to crack down the officers and high-rank men who had the different standpoints to the national policy. In 213 BC, Emperor Qinshihuang hosted a banquet in Xianyang Palace. An officer named Zhou Qingcheng highly and respectably acclaimed Emperor Qinshihuang as the Solemn and Brilliant Man when they gave greetings. Emperor Qinshihuang was very happy, but a conventional officer named Chun Yuyue who came from Qi State before the foundation of Qin Dynasty publicly criticized that Zhou Qingcheng adulated Emperor Qinshihuang. And he also condemned Emperor Qinshihuang’s state-division policy and set up the counties. He also said that if the officials wanted to replace the throne of Emperor, Emperor himself wouldn’t be saved. Furthermore, he thought that the policymaking would not last if the policymakers did not learn or make policies from the ancient times.

Primer Li Si straightforwardly rejected him and also criticized Chun Yuyue was a foolish man as well as the Confucians were the origins of the disorder. Li Si considered the Confucians belonged to a destructive power and then show his suggestion book to Emperor Qinshihuang. The main content includes:

(1) History book except Section of Qin Dynasty should be burnt
(2) The folk private book collections should be gathered in local government for burning except the governmental collections of The Book of Song, The Book of Document as well as Diversity of Thoughts.
(3) Medicine books, Fortune-telling books and Planting books are excluded
(4) The national law learners should learn from the officers
(5) Accidentally, Book of Songs and Book of Documents were seen in public for criticizing the current through narrating the old, and those who saw but did not inform the local governors would be punished as the makers.

Emperor Qinshihuang agreed and promulgated these in the form of national law, and then a nation-wide movement of burning books kicked off. Later, the incident of burying the Confucians happened as well. In total there are more than 460 Confucians killed and buried in Xianyang.

Such a policy brought Qin Dynasty the benefit of centralizing the national administration. On the other hand, it indeed did a great harm to the succession of Chinese culture. A lot of classic and rare books were burnt and could not be found any more.

Writer: David from Seeraa International
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