Salt and Iron debate during the Han dynasty

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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 China's principal threat on the northern frontier, and thereafter he committed his realm to the expansion of …

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…in power and the principled scholars who wanted reforms. The government retained the monopolies on salt and iron, but it became clear that many of the Confucian literates saw his actions for what they truly were. Wu-ti bridged the division between state and society and created a system where non-Confucian ideals filled the government pockets by oppressing the commoner. An important quote from the debate is that “Government should not compete with people for profit.”