Cover: Reform in Sung China: Wang An-shih (1021–1086) and His New Policies, from Harvard University PressCover: Reform in Sung China in E-DITION

Reform in Sung China

Wang An-shih (1021–1086) and His New Policies

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • €48.00

ISBN 9780674424388

Publication Date: 01/01/1959

140 pages


Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

The argument has not yet been resolved as to what manner of man was Wang An-shih. An unusual reformer, his role in history has become so confused that he has been considered a misguided Confucianist, a foresighted statesman, and a dictatorial politician.

James T. C. Liu’s study of late Northern Sung China provides new material about Wang and his “new policies” which had many strikingly modern features. Wang lived in the eleventh century when Confucianism reached a new height, when its principles found more active application in the nearly model state of the Northern Sung period than the periods either before or after. Yet this Confucian state encountered numerous difficult problems which demanded fundamental reorganization of government institutions and radical departure from normal policy, and Wang’s ideas met with violent opposition from various officials.

Liu stresses the stage of development of political theories and the evolution of political institutions at the time when Wang and his new policies became important. He shows Wang’s position with regard to Confucian thought, and how he dealt with the bureaucracy which existed in various forms.

Liu concludes that Wang was an institutional reformer and a “bureaucratic idealist,” who attempted to use bureaucratic machinery in developing government-initiated institutional frameworks to further realization of the Confucian ideal in attitudes of common people toward political, economic, and social matters, in addition to personal ethics.

From Our Blog

Photo of Lucia Jacobs as a child sitting next to Oaky

How to Plant a Forest

For this week’s University Press Week Blog Tour, Lucia Jacobs offers us a glimpse of environmental stewardship as seen through the activities of the ubiquitous squirrel, a species native to the Americas, Africa, and Eurasia from the Eocene Epoch onward. Lucia Jacobs is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library ( extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.