Traditionally, Chinese dynasties were characterized by the maintenance of a highly centralized bureaucracy whose prime objective was the preservation of central control over all important aspects of national life. The degree of effectiveness of the bureaucracy determined the degree of central power, the diminution and loss of which invariably led to the weakening and downfall of a dynasty. Since the economy of China was based on intensive farming, regulation of water, either for the positive purpose of irrigation or the Negative purpose of flood prevention, remained throughout Chinese history a matter of utmost importance and a principal concern of the state. The success or failure of a dynasty in handling this vital problem reflected the effectiveness of its bureaucracy, which in turn determined the fate of the dynasty itself.

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