Recover from a Social Upheaval and Restore Production / Develop Economy and Increase Population

The term means that in a period of peace after war or social upheaval, the economy and population can recover and multiply. In practice it means the sovereign shall reduce taxes and conscript labor, support agriculture, allowing the population to procreate, life to return to normal, and society to recover. It first appeared as a governing strategy in the early Han Dynasty after the ravages of the wars with the previous Qin Dynasty. By the time the Han took over, the country was devastated and the population severely depleted. This policy allowed society to gradually recover and the nation to grow. From then on, “develop economy and increase population” became an important principle and policy of government throughout Chinese history. Sometimes it was instituted reluctantly because of specific circumstances, sometimes actively pursued as a manifestation of benevolent rule, sometimes a mixture of both. It is the concrete application of the social and political principle “the people are the foundation of the state.”

In the early days of the Han Dynasty, rulers abolished numerous harsh laws of the former Qin Dynasty, giving the people time to recover and multiply. Emperor Wen of Han carried out respectful, cautious, and thrifty policies that were continued by Emperor Jing. Thus after fifty to sixty years of such rule, social atmosphere improved, and the people became decent and honest.
Huo Guang understood that what the state needed most was to give time for the population to recover and multiply by lightening taxes, and cutting back on conscript labor.