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The Cases of Caozheng and Social Order in the Localities in the Qing Empire—An Investigation Centers in the Lawsuit Filed by Kuang Guangwen over the Excessive Taxation

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The cases of caozheng 漕政 (The government administration of the collection and transport of grain taxes by water in the former times) are present in all stages in the Qing Dynasty. The social interaction and interest dispute involve the commoners, officials, and gentries in the localities in all kinds of caozheng cases. Caozheng cases that are inspired by lofty motives and filed under the established procedure are often mingled with trumped-up charges that are pressed through illegitimate means. They are employed as conventional methods by both commoners and officials for their own interests. By virtue of an in-depth analysis of such representative cases as the lawsuit issued by Kuang Guangwen, it is plainly evident that caozheng cases happen on many occasions because the long-standing malpractices spread uncontrollably in the middle and late stages of the Qing. It is both the attitude taken by the local officials towards the management of caozheng and their rationale behind the exercise of power that always dictated how such incidents take place and come to an end and therein lies the crux of a persistent problem. The caozheng cases reflects the pervasive influence that the collection of grain taxes extends on the life of the gentries and commoners, and the far-reaching effect that the taxation exerts on the change of the social order in the localities. In essence the cases reveal, to a greater or lesser degree, the circumstances under which the national affairs of Qing are administered in society in the localities, and the tendencies that are displayed in the social order in the localities.


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