Yongzheng steadily reformed the land tax system. Initially, only peasants had to pay, but gradually the tax was extended to all landowners. Peasants began to complain that the new tax rate was unreasonable, and at every level of government Yongzheng increased local supervisors so that the tax could be collected efficiently. The supervisor's pervasive presence changed the character of village life, the ideology of local lords, the economy of the region, and the character of the local aristocracy, particularly the regional governors. Yongzheng brought in Han Chinese and Manchu officials to fill the bureaus that had sprung up under the Kangxi emperor. The new officials interpreted Yongzheng's principles of government strictly, and Yeong's reforms laid the basis for centralized authority in the empire. After Yongzheng's death in 1735, his son and heir, the Yongle emperor, continued to drive provincial governors to work harder, to increase tax collection, and to crack down on local elites and local officials who sought to evade their obligations. Eventually, the revolution of the Taiping rebellion engulfed Beijing, and rebel Zhang Xianzhong conquered the capital in January 1853. When the imperial forces retreated into Shanxi in 1864, they left behind local governors and the old system of local officials. Some of these local officials re-established the old land tax system in Shanxi. Since then, Shanxi has become the most centralized province in China and the most unequal, although its economic performance remains high, with a 1991-1994 GNP growth rate of 17.3%.
By the time of the Qing dynasty, the Chinese economy had shifted to a modern money-based system. In 1700, the Qing adopted paper money based on the copper standard of the Ming dynasty and issued paper money corresponding to the silver standard (in the form of copper cash). The paper money could be privately held, redeemable in silver, and convertible into silver at will. However, beginning in 1721, the Qianlong emperor ordered his officials at lower levels to use silver for the collection of the land tax. The regime depended heavily on agricultural production for its income, and peasants, while requiring larger shares of tax revenues to meet their increased costs, remained willing to offer silver for grains. The main problem was that the people's ability to produce grains most efficiently lay in the hands of a small number of highly zealous men. d2c66b5586