In the mid-fourth century BC during the Warring States period, groundbreaking political changes occur in the Qin state in western China. Qin, weakened by poverty and internal conflict, is in peril of being annexed by the six other states in the east. Duke Xiao, the young new ruler of Qin, seeks to restore his state to its former glory and retake the territories lost by Qin in its earlier humiliating defeats by rival states. Duke Xiao recruits several talents to help him in his ambitious plans. The most outstanding one, a statesman called Shang Yang, cooperates closely with Duke Xiao on massive political and economic reforms in Qin that lasted two decades. The changes transform Qin into a powerful state, with legal and military systems that helped to lay the foundation for Qin’s eventual unification of China under the Qin dynasty nearly 200 years later in 221 BC.
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