What are the contradictions between the central and local governments over the past 2000 years?

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Author: wenboling source: wenboling fireworks world (id: wenboling2020)

Boling said:

Talk about the contradiction between central and local governments with old stories.


As we all know, since the first emperor of Qin Dynasty, China has been a unified and centralized country.

However, unification and centralization of power are conceptual things. To support such a top-level building, there must be some supporting measures, and these supporting measures mainly include four kinds:

Geographical unity and centralization, ideological unity and centralization, economic unity and centralization, and channels for local talents to circulate to the central government.

Because to ensure the geographical unity and centralization of power, the general climate has a hundred generations of Qin politics and law, the county system is spread in the sea, the central government appoints and removes local officials, and counties unconditionally obey the central government.

In the microclimate, it is necessary to cut the vassals. This is the case with the order of pushing for mercy in the Han Dynasty, the abolition of vassals in the Ming Dynasty, and the entry of five horses into Beijing in China.

Because in order to ensure the unity and centralization of power in ideology, there are the exclusive Confucianism of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, the Neo Confucianism of the Southern Song Dynasty and the eight part essay, and the power to interpret ideology is firmly in the hands of the central government.

Now it is the party organization that has the right to interpret Marxism Leninism, and the wild fox Zen outside the system can’t intervene at all.

In order to ensure the circulation of local talents to the central government, there were the imperial examination system in the Han Dynasty, the nine grades system in the Wei and Jin Dynasties, and the imperial examination system was established in the Sui and Tang Dynasties.

Those local talents can enter the central government through the reading examination, and then be assigned to various positions by the central government. So far, almost all the top talents in China have converged to the central government. Li Shimin, Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty, said that if the heroes of the world are enough, it is very illustrative.

The current imperial examination system has evolved into an examination public.

These three supporting measures have basically become the consensus of the Chinese people. Even in the troubled times of warlord separatism, China has always been moving towards reunification and centralization of power.

However, there has been no consensus on the unification and centralization of power in the economy for 2000 years. Those in power have been struggling with which way to complete the unification and centralization of power in the economy.

It can be said that the central and local contradictions, the main line is the economic contradictions.


There have been three economic models in Chinese history.

The first is Shang Yang’s version.

The core of Shang Yang’s reform was farming, that is, to put the main economic activities into agriculture and then export them with war.

As for commercial activities such as trafficking and opening stores, it is not forbidden to do so, but to use political means such as sitting in tandem, real name, heavy taxes and so on to suppress vigorously, and try to keep commercial activities to a minimum, so as to make a living.

Shang Yang’s version of the economic model is to eliminate most and control a small part.

The second is the free economic model in the early Han Dynasty.

After the establishment of the Han Dynasty by Liu Bang, “the domestic market is one, the opening and closing of the beam, and the prohibition of galloping mountains and rivers are based on the rich merchants who flow around the world, and the things they trade are all accessible, and they get what they want”, and in agriculture, they maintain a low tax rate and recuperate.

In short, the economic policy of the early Han Dynasty was to have rapid water flow and rapid development. As long as there were profitable projects, the people of the Han Dynasty could do them. The central government basically didn’t care. Even the royal gardens were deregulated and developed for the people.

Under the loose free economy, the national unified market was established, and there were rich merchants everywhere. Zhuowenjun family became rich by smelting iron, and Deng Tong, the favorite of Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty, became rich by smelting copper and money. Deng, the “pan lvdeng Xiaoxian” said this person.

The Han Dynasty also entered the glorious years of “the rule of culture and scenery”.

The last one is the state-owned enterprise monopoly mode of Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty.

Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty wanted a huge amount of money to fight against the Huns, so he took the highly profitable salt and iron industry into the central government, established a state-owned enterprise monopoly, and directly controlled the production, manufacturing, sales channels and pricing power.

Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty and sang Hongyang also introduced the equal output method. Equal output is the central government’s unified purchase and marketing, and equal output is the central government’s control of local materials to balance prices.

If it is said that in the early Han Dynasty, the national unified market was formed by the private sector, then the equal and equal loss method is the direct end of the central government to establish the national unified market. The difference between the two is that the profits of the private unified market go to the people and the profits of the central unified market go to the country.

In order to get all the profits, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty had to thoroughly clean up the folk merchants.

The Suan order levied a property tax of 10% on private businessmen. The Suan order is to encourage whistle blowing. Anyone who reports a businessman who does not pay property tax can get half of his property.

After Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty cleaned up, the “middle-class homes” in the Han Dynasty were broken, that is, all profit channels were returned to the central government, and the people basically shared the rich and the poor.

These contents have been mentioned before when writing ancient history, so I won’t talk about them in detail here.


What are the disadvantages of these three economic models?

The state of Qin did realize the centralization of economic power by using Shang Yang’s version of economic model, but Shang Yang’s version belongs to wartime economy, which is effective. The price is that the people of the state of Qin lived a boring life when there was no reunification, and after reunification, there was no fire output target.

Therefore, after the turbulent times of the Warring States period with fierce competition passed, Shang Yang’s version of the economic model seemed inappropriate, and the later dynasties never re used it.

Although the free economic model in the early Han Dynasty enlivened the market economy and achieved the prosperity of the “rule of culture and scenery”, the drawback is that the free economic model is completely mismatched with the centralized top-level building.

Because the great unification should be unified in terms of economy, and the centralization of power should also be centralized in terms of economy. In the state of free economy, the economic interests must be in the hands of local tycoons, and the economic power will be extremely shifted downward.

For example, Liu Zhen, the king of Wu, boiled salt, smelted iron and cast money in China. He is known as a rich man. He can storm 500000 soldiers in the sea. As long as Liu Zhen doesn’t want to listen to the orders of the Central Committee, he can compete with the Central Committee.

Those businessmen who have no official identity also have thousands or even tens of thousands of craftsmen. In the era of underdeveloped military technology, these people wearing armor are soldiers, which can compete with local governments.

Sima Qian called these local merchants “Sufeng”, that is, dignitaries without titles and fiefs. This title is of the same nature as Confucius’ “suwang”.

This de facto separation of the vassal states essentially fragmented the local economy of the Han Dynasty, so centralization of power would be out of the question.

The monopoly mode of state-owned enterprises of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty swept through local tycoons indiscriminately, and completely completed the great cause of centralization of “profits to the central government”. However, the drawback is that while the interests are returned to the central government, corruption also returns to the central government with the interests, forming the bureaucratic economy of the Han Dynasty.

Because where the benefits are, the competition is there.

In the past, when the benefits were local, corruption bred in local areas, and tyrants ran rampant. The central government was relatively honest. When the benefits were returned to the central government, there was a bright future in local areas, but there was fierce competition at the central level.

For example, the officials who carried out calculations and lawsuits, who were originally poor, saved tens of millions of money after three years, became several millionaires in the Han Dynasty, and would not appear on the rich list.

For example, Emperor Hanwu’s Treasury was originally empty. After some rectification, Shanglin garden was full of property, which could not be put down.

When there is no technological explosion, the total economic output is limited. If it is not in the people, it is in the government, and if it is not in the DPRK, it is in the opposition.

The focus of the contradiction between the central and local governments is what kind of economic models and policies can maximize benefits and maximize wealth transfer.


For more than 2000 years, China’s unified and centralized economic power has never been able to form a consensus, and all dynasties have swung between a free economy and state-owned enterprise monopoly.

Whenever the people are poor, the central government will delegate economic power to the local areas and prosper the national economy with the help of the power of the free market. In order to achieve the goal, the central government would rather bear the cost of official corruption, the rise of power, and local governments.

In this period, corruption can be the lubricant to invigorate the economy.

After the country’s economic prosperity, under the domination of the top-level building of great unification and centralization, the central government has no need to delegate economic power, and local governments and officials are corrupt, which gives the central government sufficient reasons to recover economic power.

So a new round of state-owned enterprise monopoly reform began.

In Han, Tang, song, Ming and Qing Dynasties, no one can escape this cycle of “decentralization and power collection”. It can be said that how to realize the unified centralization of power in the economy has always been a difficult problem in China, and it is also the root cause of the contradictions between the central and local governments that can never be solved.

Originally, according to the top-level design of great unification and centralization of power, the supporting economic system of new China was public ownership by the whole people. As in the previous three decades, all economic resources were placed at the disposal of the central government and implemented at the same time.

But as we said before, the public ownership of the whole people in the first three decades was achieved by public power. Therefore, while the rich and the poor were equally distributed at the economic and social levels, people inside and outside the system were unfair at the power level, and there was also a strict hierarchy within the system.

Fortunately, teachers are strict in governing the country, and the consciousness of that generation is also very high. Otherwise, it is difficult to say that there are no people who have become rich in three years but do not appear on the list.

Even so, there are interest groups within the system.

After the reform and opening up, in order to invigorate the national economy, economic power was gradually decentralized to the local, and the power of the market economy was used to eliminate the interest groups within the system, at the cost of the convergence of new vested interests inside and outside the system, which eliminated the economic unity and centralization.

Later, the central government found something wrong, so it began a long period of power collection with the tax sharing reform as the starting point. The charge of this process is anti-corruption, and the finishing work is anti-monopoly.

Up to now, the power collection has been basically completed, and the results of the Han Dynasty are slowly emerging.

Then why can the unified centralization of geography, ideology and talent flow be determined, but the unified centralization of economy is always swinging?

I think the reason is that geography is fixed, ideology can be influenced and domesticated for a long time, and talent flow channels are dependent on system and ideology. To sum up, these three are deterministic.

The key to the economy is supply and demand. The measure of supply and demand is people’s different needs in different periods. Maybe what you wanted a few years ago was a house and car. This year, you can have two bags of rice, which is that people’s hearts affect supply and demand.

Therefore, the unity and centralization of power in the economy is facing the uncertainty of the people.

Since people are uncertain, it is impossible to determine the system, so China has been unable to establish a unified and centralized economy for 2000 years, and has been swinging from side to side.

Then the contradiction between central and local governments in China will continue to play games.

However, unlike in the past, the free economy of the Han Dynasty had no overseas connection, and the collapse of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty would also destroy it. But now the United States is the headquarters of world capitalism, and it is also the Backroad of all free economy supporters in the world. As a result, domestic free economy supporters and tycoons are often deeply linked with the United States.

Therefore, China’s traditional central local contradiction with the economic system as the core has increased the factors of international contradictions, making the situation more complex and trickier to deal with.

Faced with similar problems in history, the solution of the Ming and Qing Dynasties was to lie flat and not solve them. They returned to the small-scale peasant society and drew a line to have limited exchanges with the outside world to ensure China’s so-called purity.

But now we have no way out. No matter how complicated the problem is, we have to find a way to solve it.

To some extent, the United States represents the historical end of free economy, the Soviet Union represents the historical end of planned economy, and China represents the historical end of mixed economy.

There is still a long way to go.

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