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Chapter 30

Chapter 30: What Are You Looking At? You’re Not the Emperor

Zhu Yuanzhang felt inexplicably nervous upon hearing Li Fan’s words.

Even though he was the emperor and should have no reason to fear Li Fan, he found himself inexplicably worried.

Despite his excellent disguise, he had been recognized by Li Fan, leaving him momentarily speechless.

Empress Ma quickly intervened, saying:

“Lord Li is joking. How could he be the emperor?”

Li Fan finished his last sip of porridge, put down his bowl and chopsticks, and laughed:

“Of course, I know he’s not the emperor. If he were, I wouldn’t be eating so freely! Hahaha!”

Zhu Yuanzhang’s veins bulged as he suppressed his anger.

Empress Ma, worried that the emperor might blow his cover, hurriedly stopped him and said to Li Fan with a smile:

“The sugar has already been shipped. We came today to see if there are any other good projects.”

Li Fan, hearing this, said directly:

“There are many projects in the business bureau. You can go take a look. If you find something suitable, you can negotiate with the relevant managers. I can provide you with assistance.”

Zhu Yuanzhang, unable to suppress himself any longer, asked directly:

“You are vigorously developing commerce in Fengyang. Aren’t you worried that the emperor will punish you?”

Li Fan glanced at Zhu Yuanzhang, chuckled, and replied:

“You’re not worried that I will be punished. You’re concerned about whether your business will have longevity, right?”

Zhu Yuanzhang could only nod silently, acknowledging Li Fan’s point.

“This year, the court will conduct a major assessment. You’ve been in Fengyang for three years. No matter what, you will be transferred this year. How can you ensure that your successor will continue to develop commerce?”

Li Fan looked at Zhu Yuanzhang incredulously.

This man, though unassuming in appearance, knew quite a bit!

He even knew about the major assessment, but that was the extent of it.

Li Fan smiled and said:

“Rest assured, no matter who succeeds me, the development of commerce will continue. You might just earn a bit less.”

Zhu Yuanzhang stared at Li Fan in disbelief, unable to accept his words, and said excitedly:

“Prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce has always been the national policy. How can officials continue to develop commerce?”

Li Fan wasn’t surprised by Zhu Yuanzhang’s agitation and responded with a smile:

“The Ming Dynasty has always emphasized the policy of prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce. And then?”

Zhu Yuanzhang paused, confused, and asked:

“And then what?”

Li Fan, seeing Zhu Yuanzhang’s lack of understanding, continued to explain:

“What specific policies have been implemented? What actions have been taken, and how exactly were they executed?”

Zhu Yuanzhang pondered for a moment but found himself unable to say anything.

Especially regarding specific policies, he had no impression, which made him anxious.

After a long pause, he finally said:

“Scholars, farmers, artisans, and merchants—merchants are the lowest class. Merchant offspring cannot take the imperial exams.”

Li Fan heard this and scoffed, dismissively replying:

“It’s precisely because merchants’ offspring can’t take the imperial exams that countless merchants begin to rely on officials, leading to collusion and illegal activities!”

Zhu Yuanzhang’s face reddened at Li Fan’s words.

Li Fan was absolutely right.

Merchants, unable to gain corresponding status after acquiring wealth, had no choice but to rely on officials, leading to collusion and corruption.

Officials, in turn, accepted merchants’ money and facilitated their activities, resulting in a corrupt Ming Dynasty.

This was an oversight in his policy-making that he hadn’t considered.

He could only begrudgingly acknowledge the truth of the matter.

With resignation, Zhu Yuanzhang said:

“Although the policy of prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce hasn’t been implemented well, we can’t vigorously develop commerce like you do!”

Li Fan, seeing Zhu Yuanzhang’s lack of understanding, shook his head helplessly.

People of this era still had limitations, They simply didn’t realize the importance of capital.

He then said:

“His Majesty has always emphasized prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce, but in my opinion, it’s just a joke. If you really want to suppress commerce, why impose a commercial tax of thirty percent? Isn’t that just playing around?”

Zhu Yuanzhang, hearing Li Fan call him a joke, felt his veins bulge and was about to explode in anger.

He had been faithfully executing the policy of prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce, so why was it considered a joke by Li Fan?

Seeing the emperor about to get angry, Empress Ma quickly stopped him, gesturing for him not to be angry, and hurriedly said to Li Fan:

“His Majesty has always been determined to execute the policy of prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce. How could it be a joke? For years, His Majesty has wanted to impose heavy taxes on commerce, but has always been blocked by officials claiming it would compete with the people’s livelihoods!”

Li Fan glanced at the irate Zhu Yuanzhang, unable to understand why he was so angry.

Could it be because he spoke ill of the emperor?

Perhaps the emperor was a staunch supporter of the policy?

After all, he was a major client, the key to opening up the market in Jinling.

Maybe it was better to patiently explain:

“All officials in the Ming Dynasty are more or less involved in commerce, but none are as brazen as I am. If His Majesty truly wants to impose heavy taxes on commerce, how will the officials profit? Everyone is making a fortune. The emperor is like a fool, still thinking he’s prioritizing agriculture and suppressing commerce.”

Xu Miaoyun’s brain couldn’t keep up with Li Fan’s pace at this point.

This guy really had a sharp tongue, daring to say anything.

Even if it were true, he shouldn’t say it in front of the emperor.

Didn’t she see Empress Ma desperately signaling her, her eyes practically shooting sparks?

But what should she do in this situation?

Zhu Yuanzhang looked at Li Fan with a dark expression.

Although what he said was harsh, it was all true.

He felt like a fool, manipulated by his officials, while they filled their pockets, leaving him to suffer alone.

With resignation, he said:

“But even if I want to impose a commercial tax now, the officials will still block it! What should I do?”


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Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

Status: Ongoing Author: Native Language: Chinese
During the Hongwu era of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang received multiple reports that Li Fan, the county magistrate of Fengyang, was extorting excessive taxes and living off the state while the people suffered. This top scholar, personally appointed by the emperor, had his integrity questioned, prompting Zhu Yuanzhang to investigate personally. Li Fan was accused of blocking roads to collect tolls, arbitrarily imposing harsh taxes, paying lip service while disobeying imperial orders, inventing excuses, and extorting excessive taxes. Tax collection had become so excessive that it felt like it had continued into the year 2050. The people of the Ming Dynasty had become impoverished, raising concerns about their ability to live well. Zhu Yuanzhang: Today we will execute this treacherous official Li Fan. I doubt the Ming Dynasty can last two thousand years with such corruption. Empress Ma: Li Fan is a crucial minister of the state! Ensuring the continuity of the Ming Dynasty for two thousand years! Zhu Biao: Father, Li Fan only collects taxes from the wealthy, allowing the common people to live in peace and prosperity! Zhu Di: Father, Li Fan helped me defeat the Franks and said we should collect taxes for five thousand years first!


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