A Virtuous Emperor During the Zhenguan Period
(Clearwisdom.net) During the Zhenguan Period in China, the emperor, Li Shimin, was a good listener, and he selected only virtuous ministers. He put an emphasis on farming, low taxes, and low government expenses. He also established an effective process for selecting government officials, leading to a stable society.
The government structure at the time was not a dictatorship. It consisted of three major branches: a) the legislative branch, headed by the prime minister, with a committee helping him to develop every piece of legislation for the emperor; b) a judicial branch, responsible for studying each proposed legislative act and giving recommendations to the emperor; and c) the executive branch, responsible for carrying out the laws signed by the emperor. Emperor Li had indicated that no piece of legislation could become law unless the judicial branch recommended its adoption. Furthermore, a direct order from the emperor himself also needed approval from the judicial branch. Hence, there was always system of checks and balances. At that time, a well known virtuous minister, Wei Zheng, headed the judicial branch.
Emperor Li was serious about governing by law. He said, "The laws are not set up by my family. They are for everyone to obey, myself included." He insisted on treating everyone equally under the law. He also said, "A dead man does not have a second chance, so special care must be exercised in ordering the death sentence." Li was a considerate emperor and a strong supporter of law and order. As a result, during his reign there were few offenders.
During the Zhenguan Period, China had excellent leadership. People lived good and stable lives. Justice, instead of injustice, was the common theme. As a result, the crime rate was very low
The Zhenguan Period also provided special opportunities for business development. It was reported that more than half of the known business centers in the world were located in China: along the coast were three major cities, Guangshou, Mingzhou, and Fuzhou, and inland there were Hungzhou (Nanchang in Jiangxi Province), Yangzhou, Chengdu, Dunghuang, and Wuwei in Gansu Province. In particular, the capital, Changan, and provisional capital, Luoyang, were major international cities at the time.
The Tang dynasty was open to foreign trade over both land and sea. The well-known "Silk Road" was established at that time. It was the main business route connecting the west to the east .