The sheer size of China prevented its early unification, but beginning with the Shang dynasty, there was an organized political entity. It was the first main power to have a stable political and religious hierarchy. Although the state did not control much territory, its culture had far-reaching influence. The Shang dynasty showed advances in military technology, which coincided with advances in civilization.

The kingship was based on religion and ritual. When the Zhou succeeded the Shang, the basis for enduring states was further established. Military prowess advanced greatly, as well as morally based civil arts, and the growth of loyalty to the empire.In Ebrey, there are three Zhou rulers established as contributing to the stability of the state during this time. King Wen is attributed with the formation of alliances to attack the Shang; His son King Wu built a new eastern capital and proceeded to build the army that defeated the Shang; Wu’s successor regent extended and consolidated the new territories to bring the entire Yellow River plain until control. These events mark the beginning of centralized Chinese bureaucracy. In this time the practice of sending out family members and trusted friends as provincial rulers began, to lessen the risk of rebellion in distant cities. It was also during this time that the territory was divided into states, each having its function.

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With the succession of the Qin dynasty, legalism was used to strengthen the power of the rulers, and as a result, the people were law-abiding, tax-paying and agriculturally productive citizens.In turn, this strengthened the empire. This dynasty boasts the unification of China by King Zheng, or “the First Emperor.” He conquered not only the Qin state but all the other Chinese states of the Zhou as well. And where he conquered, he imposed uniformity on the people. Most of the old local culture was lost in his initial reforms of state and society, but the new .