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Zongzi 粽子

Zongzi 粽子
Qu Yuan

It was about fifty years before the Qin actually finished the conquest of Chu. There were many small battles and Chu got weaker and weaker. From being one of the most powerful of the Warring States, it became fragmented and corrupt.

Following the 278 BC defeats and the loss of the capital, Ying, the Chu worked to try to regain their past strength. They had gotten soft because they had underestimated the power of the Qin organization, as had the other States at the time. In 224, the Chu had mustered a great army and were able to defeat the Qin as they tried to enter Chu territory once again. The Qin fell back and sat on the other side of the border.

The Chu generals and government held onto their positions for a year until it was clear to them that the Qin were too intimidated and were not going to fight. The Qin were simply going to hem them in, or lay siege. The Chu gradually allowed their soldiers to return home and cut down on defensive fortifications. Keeping an army standing at the battlements was a very expensive proposition.

This was the moment that the Qin had been waiting for, and in 223 BC they attacked Chu and won a decisive victory. The Chu had been able to resist much longer than most, but the military and bureaucratic strength of the Qin finally overcame them.

With the defeat of Chu, the rest of the States fell quickly to the Qin. The Qin founded the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC, the first modern dynasty of China. The military and bureaucratic organization they had applied to themselves to win the wars were now applied to all of China. Power was centralized. Districts were governed by representatives from the central government and rotated regularly to prevent corruption and prevent them from building a power base greater than the central government. A code, or system of laws was set up that applied to the whole country. Taxation was reformed. Great works including canals, bridges, and the expansion and connection of the portions of the Great Wall were completed to benefit the people and the productivity of the State. Many of these were the same reforms that had been urged by Qu Yuan 屈原 on the King of Chu. The Qin Dynasty had its own problems, including forced labor to complete those projects, but that is part of another story.

China Index >> Modern Culture in Beijing >> Making Zongzi

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Last update: September 2009 2008
© Marilyn Shea, 2009