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Potential Future government officials taking examination

The Han Dynasty people were the first to use government examinations as a way to choose government officials. The civil service examinations were used as a way to select officials based on merit and ability, rather than family lineage or political connections. This idea of came from Confucian philosophy, which seeked a state ruled by men of ability and virtue. The tests were based on the Confucian classics, so although the exams were created so everyone had an equal chance of succeeding and being named to a position, the wealthy had a better chance. Since books were very expensive, only the richer families could afford to send their children to a prestigious school or buy the expensive Confucian classics. This selection process based on merit, meant that even the poorest family could have a member claim a high-ranking  positionin the government

The civil service that was created by the Han provided stability to the Chinese Empire for over 2,000 years.

The civil service examinations were abolished by the Ch’ing dowager empress Tz’u Hsi in 1905 due to pressure from Chinese scholars and intellectuals. In  the civil service examination's place, education of a Western type  curriculum was installed.  


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"China's Domestic Order." Encarta Online. ©2003 Microsoft Corporation.

"Chinese Civil Service." Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service.Encyclopædia Britannica 2003. 
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