WANG ANSHI, SIMA GUANG, AND EMPEROR SHENZONG

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Chinese historical experience varies across different periods. Thegovernment mostly relied on the Confucian principles especially inimplementing reforms to the government. The history of China hasgreatly influenced the government’s practices since there aredifferent issues that were experienced across the periods (Chan &ampOwen, 2010). Patricia Ebrey’s discusses in her book, ‘ChineseCivilization’ different historical periods that provide importantlessons to the modern world. Therefore, the paper shall be analyzingWang Anshi, Sima Guang, and Emperor Shenzong selection. It shallbegin by discussing who wrote the selection, the period it waswritten and for what reason. It shall then determine the extent towhich the selection refers to particular age or place in which it waswritten and whether there are any broader issues spanning differentperiods or places. It shall then conclude by determining if thepassage has had any impact.

The selection on Wang Anshi, Sima Guang, and Emperor Shenzongcontains an account of a debate in court. The debate was between WangKui, Wang Anshi, and Sima Guang, and it can be argued that Sima Guangwrote the arguments since he refers to himself as ‘I’ throughoutthe entire debate (Ebrey, 2009). He is also the writer of theselection because he wrote a letter to Wang Anshi regarding theirdebates and disagreements that had increased as he wished to expresshis opinion regarding the system of governance. Another writer of theselection was Wang Anshi since after receiving the letter from SimaGuang he replied to his letter the following day explaining how heapplies the Confucian principles in his administration. Therefore, itis evident that both Wang Anshi and Sima Guang wrote the selection.

The selection was written in the year 1070 when the Song Dynastyruled China. The passage was written during the Song dynasty becausethe dynasty operated in the year 960-1279 under the founder EmperorTaizu (Yao, 2015). The issues being discussed by Wang Anshi and SimaGuang are aimed at improving the economic situation of China, and itwas during the reign of Song dynasty that China has to experiencestability of its economy. The selection was also written at a timewhen Emperor Shenzong had taken over the reign of the Song dynastyand had decided to adopt the policies of Wang Anshi. He used thepolicies in improving the standard of living and addressingunemployment and peasantry situation among the citizens.

The selection on Wang Anshi, Sima Guang, and Emperor Shenzong waswritten to demonstrate the role leaders played in the civilization ofthe Chinese. Leaders play an essential role in the governance of anation, and it is their responsibility to ensure that they servetheir subjects with dignity. Wang Anshi and Sima Guang were scholarswho shared the same goal for the Chinese but their ways of achievingthe desired goals differed. They agreed that they could incorporatethe Confucian principles, but they could disagree on the specificprinciples that were most relevant and how they should be applied tothe current circumstances. Such a scenario as illustrated by theselection shows how disagreements arise among leaders that couldinterfere with the practices of the government. However, the role ofan Emperor in the dynasty comes in handy whenever such debates arisesince he has to make the final decision that determines theprocedures the government shall implement in achieving the commondesired goals. The selection was also written to show how theConfucian principles were applied to the reforms of the governmentpractices. Confucian principles address various issues in society,and the emperor has to understand the various principles so that hecan determine the most appropriate situation they apply (Wong, 2012).For instance, Emperor Shenzong had decided to implement Wang’spolicies since they apply the Confucian principles. They enable thegovernment to put the interests of the citizens first when addressingthe issues facing the Chinese. It also allows fairness to bepracticed by the government since laws are not dictated but debatedin court before the final decision can be made.

The period in which the Wang Anshi, Sima Guang, and Emperor Shenzongwas written relates to various issues that were occurring in China.There were changes in the Chinese economy that were being implementedto improve the living standards of the people (Zhang, 2015). Thegovernment wanted to improve the lives of the citizens by creatingjob opportunities, creating easy access to education and other basicfacilities. The context of the text is related to the period of Songdynasty because Sima Guang discusses how together with Wang Anshi andthe emperor they have undertaken measures to improve the lives of theChinese. Emperor Shenzong has adopted Wang Shang policies because hebelieves they focus on various issues affecting the Chinese. Theselection of Wang Anshi, Sima Guang, and Emperor Shenzong is alsorelated to the period of Song dynasty in terms of governmentexpenditure. The government was experiencing financial shortages, butthe economy was stable although it slowed the rate of economicdevelopment. The period is related is related to the selection inthat also reflects a situation of financial challenges. There is adebate where Sima Guang advocates that the leaders should declineexpensive gifts and develop strategies that shall cut expenses(Ebrey, 2009). On the other hand, Wang believes the gifts are cheaperas compared to those awarded to past government officials andstrategies on cutting expenses shall discredit the government.

The selection of Wang Anshi, Sima Guang, and Emperor Shenzong greatlyreflects the period in which it was written in terms of the taxationpolicies. The Confucian principles state that the government canachieve equality especially among the poor and the rich throughadopting means such as taxation (Confucius &amp Legge, 1872). Duringthe period in which the selection was written, the taxation policieshad contributed to achieving the stable Chinese economy. Sima Guangin the selection argues that people implementing heavy taxes shall beunaffordable to the local people, and the stable economy shall bedestroyed. The taxation policies that Wang Anshi is recommending toEmperor Shenzong to implement might be causing more trouble to theChinese, but Wang Anshi believes that since they are set as per theConfucian principles they are good for the Chinese economy.

The passage on Wang Anshi, Sima Guang, and Emperor Shenzonginfluenced the relationship among the government officials, theChinese citizens and the system of administration. Governmentofficials are allowed to have different opinions regarding statematters, but they must agree on a common direction that they shallall follow in serving the citizens. Sima Guang complains of how WangAnshi has influenced the government such that only his opinions arebeing implemented since the emperor greatly values his opinions. Theindividualistic nature of implementing policies influenced othergovernment officials to disagree with Wang Anshi because they werenot being involved in the implementation of the policies. Therelationship among the government officials deteriorated because theyfelt the policies that were being implemented were affecting the lifeof the common citizens. Despite the deteriorating relationship amongthe government officials, not all hope is lost since through WangAnshi’s letter, he writes it would have been better if they haddiscussed the issues in person (Ebrey, 2009).

Financial challenge was a major issue affecting the operations of theSong dynasty during the reign of Emperor Shenzong. From the passage,the reform policies of Wang Anshi that were implemented were aimed ataddressing the financial crisis. However, the policies affected thestandards of living among Chinese. For example, increasing the amountof taxes paid by the locals and reducing the salaries earned byproviding labor services affected the Chinese people greatly. Thepassage indicates that the government was not adequately applying theConfucian principles because if they did they would not be workingagainst their set goals. Another impact of the passage is that itinfluenced the system of administration adopted by the government.When Emperor Shenzong took over the Song dynasty, he appointed WangAnshi to serve as a chancellor in his government (Ivanhoe &amp Van,2005). There were other chancellors such as Sima Guang, but theemperor chose to pay greater attention to Wang Anshi rather thanother government officials thus undermining the reform policies. Ifthe emperor had applied the Confucian principles in the system ofadministration of Song dynasty, there would be no disagreements amongthe government officials. Therefore, the passage helps to highlightthe importance of following the right system of administration.

In summary, the selection Wang Anshi, Sima Guang, and EmperorShenzong was written during the Song dynasty to illustrate thedifferent roles played in the civilization of Chinese. It alsoillustrates how the Confucian principles are applied in thegovernment. The passage relates to the various issues witnessedduring the period it was written in terms of the taxation policies,government expenditure and the standards of living. Finally, theselection affected the relationship of government officials, Chinesebased on the financial challenges suffered, and the system ofadministration.

References

Chang, K. S., &amp Owen, S. (2010). The Cambridge history ofChinese literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Confucius, &amp Legge, J. (1872). The Analects of Confucius.Auckland: Floating Press.

Ebrey, P. (2009). Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. Simonand Shuster 2nd Ed.

Ivanhoe, P. J., &amp Van, N. B. W. (2005). Readings in classicalChinese philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett.

Wong, S. K. (2012). Confucianism, Chinese history, and society.Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Pub.

Yao, X. (2015). The Encyclopedia of Confucianism: 2-volume Set.Routledge

Zhang, Q. (2015). An introduction to Chinese history and culture.