To pay for his military campaigns and colonial expansion, Emperor Wu nationalized several private industries. He created central government monopolies administered largely by former merchants . These monopolies included salt, iron , and liquor production, as well as bronze-coin currency . The liquor monopoly lasted only from 98 to 81 BC, and the salt and iron monopolies were eventually abolished in early Eastern Han. The issuing of coinage remained a central government monopoly throughout the rest of the Han dynasty.  The government monopolies were eventually repealed when a political faction known as the Reformists gained greater influence in the court. The Reformists opposed the Modernist faction that had dominated court politics in Emperor Wu's reign and during the subsequent regency of Huo Guang (d. 68 BC). The Modernists argued for an aggressive and expansionary foreign policy supported by revenues from heavy government intervention in the private economy. The Reformists, however, overturned these policies, favoring a cautious, non-expansionary approach to foreign policy, frugal budget reform, and lower tax-rates imposed on private entrepreneurs. 
To quote Philip Short in his book 'Mao: A Life': "Mao knew by heart the lessons of the dynastic histories. It was not chance that led him to choose, among all his imperial predecessors, the First Emperor of Qin - who throughout Chinese history had been feared and reviled as the epitome of harsh rule - as the man against whom he wished to measure himself. 'You accuse us of acting like Qin Shihuangdi,' he once told a group of liberal intellectuals. 'You are wrong. We surpass him a hundred times. When you berate us for imitating his despotism, we are happy to agree! Your mistake was that you did not say so enough.'"
Another branch of Buddhism developed in China called Chán – to be called Zen in Japan. Like the devotional movements in India and Pure Land Buddhism, Chán Buddhism offered people an attachment to divinity without years of arduous intellectual exercise: it offered sudden enlightenment. Chán Buddhism saw reality as nothing more than the immediate present. How things had become what they were was unreal and of no consequence. Chán monks sought salvation through mystical inspirations rather than reading and meditation. And Chán monks believed in supporting themselves by humble, menial work.