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Word Count: 497
Emperor Wu-ti began his reign in 140 BC During its early years he was under the moderating influence of relatives and court officials however by the late 130s he had decided that the essentially defensive foreign policy of his predecessors was not going to solve his foreign problems In 133 he launched attacks on the nomadic Hsiung-nu people who constituted Chinas principal threat on the northern frontier and thereafter he committed his realm to the expansion of the empire By 101 Wu-tis troops spurred by an emperor heedless of their hardships and intolerant of defeat had extended Chinese control in all directions His wars and other undertakings exhausted the states reserves and forced him to look for other sources of income New taxes were decreed and state monopolies on salt iron and wine were instituted Following Wu-tis death a public debate on the state monopolies was held in 81 BC an account of which was published as the dialog Discourses on Salt and Iron Officers were appointed to equalize distribution by purchasing cheap commodities and selling when prices were high thus preventing prices from being too low or too high and maximizing profit for the government Although treasury deficits were eliminated and adequate stores supplied the armies on the frontiers the people forced to eat without salt because of its high cost or use inferior iron tools to farm became discontent Thus sixty scholars were summoned from around the empire to debate the issues In the dialog proponents of the governments current policies argued that they successfully provided iron tools to the peasants and increased trade and wealth Criticizing this profiteering Confucian reformers emphasizing agriculture wanted the use of money reduced They found government harsh and oppressive complaining of the disparities between the rich and poor Critics also felt that expansion and foreign adventures had weakened China without maintaining safety They argued the ancients had honored virtue and discredited the use of arms Government realists
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