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Chinese Administration of Alcoholic Beverages

9.1 Administration of Alcoholic Beverages in Ancient Times

Administration of alcoholic beverages is the summation of regulations and policies which are made for and exerted upon production, circulation and sale of alcoholic beverages.

9.1.1 Specialties of Alcoholic Beverages

Among a large quantity of daily articles, the alcoholic is a very special article . The reasons are as the following:

a). Brewing raw materials in China are mainly cereals, which are related to the very important physical material of the national economy and the people's liveli- hood. As brewing of alcoholic beverages is a very profitable industry, in history often occurred this kind of incidents that large and powerful brewer purchased more grains from people's mouths. The government must exert powerful administrative measures to interfere and bring under control when the conflict between brewing raw materials and necessary food for making a living took place.

b). Brewing and consumption of alcoholic beverages are a very popular social activity. Firstly, production of alcoholic beverages is well popular. Brewing of alcoholic drinks can be undergone in a large brewery, or made for a family consumption in a homely scale. As the production method is relatively simple, and production period is rather shorter, brewing of the alcoholic can be done at times if there is enough corn. The enterprises that directly produce alcoholic beverages have close links with many social walks and fields, and the consumption of the alcoholic beverages covers a large population. The combination of the brewing industry with the catering trade plays a very important role in social life. So, that a government manages the brewing industry is a very complex systematic engineering.

c). The government exerts administration upon production and sale of the alcoholic beverages. It is a commodity with a high surplus value . The brewing industry usually obtain a high profit. In ancient times, those who could run breweries and distilleries in society were usually rich businessmen and wealthy families, their breweries and distilleries brought plenty of wealth. But it was unfavorable for the state and government if social wealth was gathered too much in their hands. The frequent changes of administration and policies of alcoholic beverages were actually a result of struggling for the alcoholic beverages' profit- - - - the result that different political groups struggled for it. Even in the contemporary society exist the contradictions among different industries and walks, different administrative levels and different circulation management levels on division of alcoholic beverage profits.

d). Alcoholic beverages are a kind of special food, it is not a necessity of daily life, however possesses some particular functions such as our ancestors mentioned that drinking can help get more cheers and alcoholic beverages serve as presents and cure illnesses, there can't be no alcoholic beverages on certain occasions . But the alcoholic is also regarded as a luxury, without it people can make a regular life with no effect; Furthermore people can be addicted to it; if one drinks excessively, he will get drunk, make troubles and do harms to his health. Therefore alcoholic beverages are viewed as the resources of woes and troubles. It is a complicate and profound learning how to carry out administration of brewing industry based on the actual situation of brewing industry so as to bring the production, circulation and consumption of alcoholic beverages to the correct orbit, play its positive roles and bring its negative effects under control.

For thousands of years, rulers of different dynasties, based on the causes and reasons mentioned above, took an attitude from freedom and uncontroll to tight hold towards the alcoholic beverages which have a far and wide influence, exerting various management policies and measures. These policies and measures shared some advantages and disadvantages, and their operations sometimes were severe, sometimes loose, which received praises and criticisms in history. Although they have become history, they still have some useful functions to the coming generations.

9.1.2 Detailed Description of Administration of Alcoholic Beverages in Ancient Times

During the primitive ages, production and consumption of alcoholic beverages were in general a spontaneous activity due to the uncertainty of production of foods and grain, mainly influenced by production of grain output. Meanwhile it should be made clear that only those who enjoyed high positions and upper classes possessed a qualification to brew or drink the alcoholic in slavery societies. In given historical ages alcoholic beverages were not a commodity but only a common article. People then didn't recognize its economic value, which extended to the early period of Han Dynasty.

Since the time when Yu, an emperor of Xia Dynasty gave an order to forbid brewing of alcoholic drinks and Zhou Gong ( an emperor of Zhou Slavery Dynasty) issued a forbidden-alcoholic-drink document, the administrative regulations and system and detailed measures have been getting more and more perfect, and more and various methods have been practiced with ages advancing forward. The detailed methods and degrees of administration of alcoholic beverages being carried out varied with different dynasties, but basically ranging from forbidding, monopolization sale to taxation of alcoholic beverages. Besides there were some special ways. Performance of different management of alcoholic beverages concerned the division of alcoholic beverage profit among different social groups and classes, sometimes, economic struggles were mixed with political struggles. In addition, succession of administration of alcoholic beverages was broken off at times because of the changes of political powers. Noticeably, the administration of alcoholic beverages is part of the whole economic policies, so the details and ways of performance of it usually has a considerable relation with the whole economic policies of a power.

1). Forbidding of Alcoholic Beverages

Forbidding of alcoholic beverages means that the government orders to stop production, circulation and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The purposes of forbidding them can be summed up as the following:

(a).Reduction of consuming grain and gathering of more grain against wars and natural disasters which were the main purposes that different powers in history carried out forbidding of alcoholic beverages.

(b). Prevention from indulging in drinking which could lead to deterioration of social moralities and woes of being killed and forbidding of the whole governmental officials who made nonsense and commends on state affairs after drunk, which mainly referred to rulers themselves.

(c). Prevention of mass drinking which chiefly prohibited masses from getting together to make chaos in ancient times.

As alcoholic beverages possessed a special attractive force, some aristocrats got indulged in them, which developed into a serious social problem. The top ruling class had to exert forbidding alcoholic beverages from the view of protection of self-interests.

In Chinese history, Yu of Xia Dynasty was probably the first and earliest emperor to raise prohibition of alcoholic beverages. It was said that his daughter named Yi Di brewed a sort of tasteful alcoholic drink which was then presented to Emperor Yu, Yu tasted and felt cheerful, saying there must be some imperial rulers in coming generations who would be indulged in drinking which would lead to the loss of their imperial powers; then giving an order to stop brewing.(ˇ¶Chapter Two of Wei Ce, Zhanguoce ˇ·). Here Yu's order to stop brewing suggested himself stopping drinking, but as an ultimate ruler, the purpose of his order perhaps, meant not only limit to his stop of drinking, but also declared his example and attitude not to be carried away by the tasteful alcoholic drink, and perhaps included the idea to forbid people to over drink.

The facts proved Yu's foresight correct. The last emperors of both Xia Dynasty and Shang Dynasty were driven out of power and caused woes of killing due to getting indulged in drinks. According to historical records and a large quantity of drinking vessels discovered in the relics, the rulers of both Xia Dynasty and Shang Dynasty were indulged in drinking. For example, Emperor Jie of Xia Dynasty spent all finances and hundreds of thousands of laborers to construct the magnificent jade palace for his enjoyment, in which luxurious feasts were continuously held with decadent music being played, all the attendants had fish drinks and got over drunk, sometimes over three thousands were indulged in fish drink competition at the same time. Emperor Jie was at last driven out of the imperial city by monarch of Shang Dynasty named Tang. The aristocrats of Shang Dynasty were also indulged in over drinking , and even went out of control. It can be proved by the drinking vessels found in Shang Dynasty's relics, their number surprisingly large, their variety countless, their making deliberately designed amazing gods, their rank the highest in the world, which can indicate how the ruling class then were indulged in alcoholic drinks. It was said Emperor Zhou kept drinking for seven days and nights without break, distiller's grains piling up in hills, the pool for storing the alcoholic deep enough to sail boats. Based on the studies, it has been indicated that the aristocrats of Shang Dynasty got slowly poisoned and as a result led to decrease of combat effectiveness due to long-time use of the drinking vessels made of tin. It is commonly considered that extinction of Shang Dynasty's power stemmed out of popularity of over drinking. After overthrowing Shang Dynasty's power, the rulers of West Zhou Dynasty issued the earliest forbidden order of alcoholic beverages- - ˇ¶ Forbidden- drink Document ˇ· ( Chinese pronunciation "Jiu Gao") in history. In it there were such forbidden orders as no frequent drinking, only being allowed to drink on such occasion as memorial ceremonies; those who gathered in mass to drink the alcoholic beverages would be arrested and killed. Under such situations, during the early- and- mid period of West Zhou Dynasty, over drinking weakened relatively , which has been proved by the cultural relics discovered in that period, among them the portion of the drinking vessels was lessened. The forbidden regulations in ˇ¶ Forbidden- drink Document ˇ·can be concluded as no excessive drink, no mass drink ( large groups' drink ) and no addiction to drink, and the document also thought that alcoholic beverages were a source of deterioration of social morality and loss of state's power, which was later composed of one of principal thoughts on prohibition of alcoholic drinks, and developed into classics cited by coming generations.

There was the forbidden-mass-drink system during early West Han Dynasty. Xiao He, prime minister of West Han Dynasty stipulated the followings in his Act-----------three or over three people who gathered together drinking without supporting reasons would be fined four liang (a Chinese weight unit, around 40 grams) of gold (ˇ¶ Shi Ji, Wen Di Ben Jinˇ· ). Probably it was because of newly-established West Power of Han Dynasty that the rulers gave the order to extinct counter-forces' gathering to make chaos. No mass drink actually stemmed out of the regulations in ˇ¶Forbidden-drink Document ˇ·. issued by Dynasty.

The government issued the forbidden-drink order when no drinks were allowed. Forbidden- drink regulations could be divided into several sorts, one was called absolutely forbidden drink order, that is, Niether officials nor citizens were permitted to drink the alcoholic, no permission of production and circulation of alcoholic beverages existed throughout the society; the other was called district forbidden- drink order, which was rather common in some dynasties such as Yuan Dynasty, mainly caused by a good harvest or a bad one in different districts. Another one was named forbidden- Jiu- Qu and non -forbidden-drink order, it was a peculiar method to prohibit the alcoholic drink--Jiu Qu belonged to state-monopolizing commodity , no Jiu Qu was allowed to produce by privacy, without Jiu Qu, of course, there was no production of alcoholic drinks. The last sort of forbidden-drink order that the state carried out monopoly sale policy that forbade the privacy to brew, transport and sell alcoholic beverages.

In history forbidden-drink incidents took place rather commonly, which, besides the political reasons mentioned above , was even more caused by grain and food problem. Whenever natural disasters and man-made woes took place, the government would issued the forbidden- drink order, while there were bumper harvests of crops, the forbidden- drink orders would be abolished. There would be rigid punishments when the forbidden -drink order was in performance. If private alcoholic drinks were discovered, those outlaws received either punishment of confiscating Jiu Qu or capital punishment.

2) Monopoly Sales of Alcoholic Beverages

Monopoly sales of the alcoholic could be defined as state's complete control of production and sales of alcoholic beverages. No individuals were allowed to do any industry that was related to alcoholic beverages. But the connotation of monopoly sales of the alcoholic went beyond it.

(a). Complete monopoly sale of alcoholic beverages was a management mode that was responsible for whole process such as making of Qu, brewing of alcoholic beverages, transportation of alcoholic beverages and sales of them. As there was only one monopoly store , no other branches that sold the alcoholic beverages, they could be sold at a high price, which could make a great deal of profits. All the finance would be presented to the government.

(b). Indirect Monopoly Sales. There were different modes of indirect monopoly sales of alcoholic beverages, The governmental agency was in charge of one of whole chains of brewing industry. For example, the official agency only monopolized production of Jiu Qu, performing monopoly sales of Jiu Qu and obtaining high profits. During the South Song Dynasty, a mode of indirect monopoly sales was exerted upon the brewing industry, the official agency provided places, brewing tools and Jiu Qu, and brewers themselves should prepare raw materials and hand in a certain sum of tax to the government, with no limit to output of alcoholic beverages and self-responsibility for sales.

(c). Business Monopoly Sales. The government managed no production, purchase, transportation and sale of the alcoholic and some merchants and brewers (or distillers) with official permission were allowed to engage in brewing and sales or business activity of purchase and sales of alcoholic beverages after they had paid a certain sum of fees and were ready to accept the official management, those non-permitted merchants had no right to do this kind of deal.

During the early-and-mid period of West Han Dynasty, the brewing industry was well-developed, however there was no state monopoly sale policy. In Emperor Han Wu's period of West Power, the change that monopoly sale of alcoholic beverages was exerted for the first time was one part of Emperor Han Wu's series of policies that strengthened administration of central power's finance. During over 50 years when Emperor Han Wu was in power, to counter the situation that merchants dominated salt business, metallurgy business and engaged in speculation and profiteering and reaped staggering profits, paying no concern to the government's difficulties and emergency, he first gave an order to take back these trades to state monopoly management, which played an effective role in increasing the state's financial revenue, and meanwhile prepared the fundamental preconditions for exerting monopoly sales of alcoholic beverages. Since the government could exert state's monopoly sale of the salt and iron, it could also carry out state's monopoly sales of alcoholic beverages sooner or later, for the alcoholic was a peculiar commodity that could collect a large quantity of wealth for the state.

The direct reason to exert state monopoly sale of alcoholic beverages probably was that the government was in great need of money. At the end of Emperor Han Wu's period, the national financial revenue lost the balance, income falling short of expenditure because of the huge expenditure caused by years' frontier wars. The alcoholic drink which was almost as popular as salt, was for the first time found in the economic value of collection of wealth with such virtues as relatively simpler process of production, a shorter period of production, a need of less investment, rich resources of raw materials, its production area widely spread, its popularity and great need in consumption and its high profits. Based on the historical records, state monopoly sale of alcoholic beverages was exerted in February, the 98th year of Han Dynasty ˇ¶Han Su, Emperor Wu Ben Ji ˇ·.

The invention of state monopoly sales of the alcoholic was a great significant event in both Chinese history of administration of the alcoholic and Chinese finance history. That's because firstly state monopoly sales of the alcoholic widened the resource of financial revenue for the country, providing necessary finance for frequent frontier wars, large quantities of imperial palace expenditure and suppression of peasants' rebellions. It was even wiser and more reasonable than the direct taxes on people, for alcoholic beverages were rather popular goods, but not daily necessities. Exertion of state monopoly sales suggested that those who consumed the alcoholic were not harmed in interests, in fact the price they paid included a part of money they contributed to the government as tax, which indirectly relieved the load of economy to those not consuming the alcoholic. Secondly, it reinforced the central power in economy, transferring part of wealthy merchants' interests to the state financial revenue. At that time, only those powerful and wealthy merchants and landlords were qualified to run large- scale breweries, distilleries and alcoholic beverage stores. Too much wealth and property gathered in their hands would do no good to the state. The state monopoly sales of the alcoholic deprived these rich class off enjoying the privilege, which no doubt had some progressive significance in softening the striking difference between the rich and the poor. Thirdly, exertion of state monopoly sales of the alcoholic permitted the government to strengthen the administration of brewing industry on a macro-scale, the government was able to make a decision whether to brew alcoholic beverages or not, and how large the quantities of alcoholic beverages should be. As no individual and private brewers were allowed to produce the alcoholic during the period of state monopoly sales, it was easier to bring the production and sales of the alcoholic beverages under control so as to save grain and food.

Monopoly sales of alcoholic beverages were a main mode of administration of brewing industry in late Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty and late Qing Dynasty.

In history, monopoly sales of alcoholic beverages had a particular feature in North Power and South Power of Song Dynasty. The Monopoly sales in North Power of Song Dynasty had various modes. According to historical records, there were two modes in general then in addition to the contract-system mode.

Monopoly Sales of Qu. Monopoly sales of Qu meant that the official agency monopolized the production of Qu. For Jiu Qu was the necessary essential raw material in brewing of the alcoholic, therefore monopoly production of Jiu Qu equaled monopoly production of alcoholic beverages. Citizens purchased Jiu Qu from the Qu production agency run by the government then began brewing by themselves. The government would tax the alcoholic beverages brewed by those who bought Jiu Q from the official agency. This mode of monopoly sales was mainly carried out in such big cities as Dongjing (Bianliag, the capital of North Power of Song Dynasty,) Nanjing (Shangqiu) and Louyang and the like.

Monopoly Sales of Alcoholic Beverages. This official agency set up some breweries and distilleries to produce alcoholic beverages and some stores to do alcoholic beverage deals. No citizens were allowed to buy and sell alcoholic beverages and the official agency classified them and fixed their prices.

3). Alcoholic Beverage Taxation

It was a special tax on alcoholic beverages. The special tax was different from general business taxes. The Alcoholic beverage tax was much heavier compared with other business taxes because alcoholic beverages were regarded as luxuries. Before Han Dynasty, there were only general business taxes, and no special alcoholic beverage tax. During late Qing Dynasty and Guomindang Power period, there existed a specially- permitted license tax on alcoholic beverage businessmen and sellers. etc.

From the time when Emperor Zhou issued ˇ¶ Forbidden -drink Document ˇ· to the period before Emperor Han Wu Di exerted state monopoly sales of alcoholic beverages in his early power period, the rulers didn't view administration of brewing industry as an important means of collecting wealth and property.

In Qin Kingdom where Shan Yang hold a position of prime minister, the basic policy to encourage development of agriculture and limit development of commerce was being carried out. ˇ¶Shan Jun Su. Ken Ling Pian ˇ· ( An order of Development of Agriculture in the works by Shan Yang) stipulated that alcoholic beverages and meat should be fixed and sold at a high price, and their tax should be as ten times high as their cost. In a document of Qin Kingdom entitled ˇ¶Qiu Lu . Tian Lu ˇ·( Laws of Land in Qin Kingdom, ) there was a regulation that peasants living by farming were not allowed to brew alcoholic drinks, those against the regulation would receive punishment. There were two main points in Qin Kingdom's administration of brewing the alcoholic drink; that is to say civilians were forbidden to brew the alcohol, and the alcoholic was sold at a much higher price than its cost with high prices and high taxes being exerted on the alcoholic drink, the aim was to limit or control production consumption of alcoholic beverages by means of economic measures and severe regulations, encouraging citizens to farm more grains; meanwhile the government could obtain a huge number of financial revenue by fixing high prices and raising high taxes.

4). Officially-Permitted Special Taxation of Alcoholic Beverages in Tang Dynasty

Forbidden-drink policy would no doubt result in great damages to brewing industry, alcoholic beverage business lessened, even no deal tax raised. In the first year of Dai Zhong's powers, an Lushan's Revolt was supressed at last, the government of Dai Zhong's Power deliberately set up new taxes on different items and raised exorbitant taxes and levies in order to pay the military expenditure and support the imperial family and its officials. According to records of ˇ¶ New Tang Su. Yanzhuan ˇ·, the ways of taxing on goods then developed into making one's hair standing on end, the tax on perished item not canceled, repeated tax not cut down, new and old taxes added together ˇ¤ˇ¤ˇ¤ In order to insure the national financial revenue, the alcoholic beverage taxation which was exerted 180 years before was brought back into use. In the 2nd year of Dai Zhong's Power, an imperial order was given to register all the brewers and breweries in the country and the registered brewers and breweries were required to pay the alcoholic beverage tax. ( ˇ¶Tang Su. She Huo Zi ˇ·It was in the same record that all the registered breweries were ordered to contribute their monthly tax on alcoholic beverages . Besides, all the prohibition regulations on the alcoholic were canceled, which suited both official and non- official brewers and breweries.

The alcoholic beverage taxation of Tang Dynasty could actually be concluded the registration of breweries and alcoholic beverage stores with the government, and classification of them according to their management scales, then these registered breweries and stores could share the privilege to do alcoholic beverage business. Those not permitted by the government had no right to brew and deal alcoholic beverages. In the year of Dali Six, the alcoholic beverage tax was collected by local governments, then contributed in turn to the central government. A specially exerted method was to substitute alcoholic beverage tax raised by local governments for the contributions of cloth and silk to the central government.

5). Other Modes of Administration of Alcoholic Beverages

(a). Centralization Mode of Brewing Alcoholic Beverages was a flexible management of brewing. i. e. The official agency set up central breweries with brewing tools. Citizens could bring grain themselves to the central breweries to brew alcoholic beverages, and based on the quantities the official agency raised a certain sum of fee-tax .

(b). State Monopoly Sales and Additional Farming Tax Ran Paralleled

In 811 A.D. ( in the year of Yuan He Six ) , there was a bumper harvest of crops, and corn price declined sharply in some places. Since there was much grain, brewing of alcoholic beverage must be widespread, which, in turn, resulted in the decline of alcoholic beverage price. If the original policy had not be changed that a dou of alcoholic beverage( "dou". was a Volume unit in the past China ) was still taxed 150 yuan, breweries would have gone bankrupt. The rulers adjusted their alcoholic beverage policy to the practical situations in time. In the same year, all the official breweries stopped production in the capital of the government, there was no forbidden- drink regulations. The officially-registered breweries still had to pay alcoholic beverage tax, for those common people, if they had adequate grain and food, they could brew the alcoholic for their own use without obtaining the official permission or paying alcoholic beverage tax. But all the peasants should pay a kind of additive farming tax according to their owning land. This policy was actually to distribute the alcoholic beverage tax evenly to all the people and the government even collected more. In the areas where the alcoholic beverage tax and additive farming tax ran paralleled, there were no officially -run stores for selling the alcoholic. This policy was similar to the free brewing-and-sale policy exerted in the early period of Tang Dynasty, but the monopoly sales and alcoholic beverage taxation had been changed into the additive land taxation. This policy not only softened people's complaints and resentments against the officially- run breweries and officially-permitted alcoholic beverage stores, but the government could increase the financial revenue.

6). Punishment Regulations for Those Against State Brewing Industry Policy

Punishment regulations were the necessary measures to insure the governmental policy of brewing industry to be smoothly exerted. When the government carried out monopoly sale of alcoholic beverages, alcoholic beverage taxation, and forbidden-drink policy, those private brewers and breweries without official permission would receive certain kinds of punishment, some would be fined confiscation of brewing tools and wares and brewing incomes and some would be fined some money; some would even receive the death penalty.

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