(also Ch’in Shih Huang-ti; personal name, Ying Cheng). Born 259 B.C.; died 210 B.C. Ruler of the Ch’in kingdom (246–221 B.C.); emperor of China (221–210 B.C.). Member of the Ch’in Dynasty.
The world view of Shih Huang-ti was strongly influenced by Legism (seeFA-CHIA). After conquering six Chinese kingdoms, he established the centralized Ch’in Empire in 221 B.C. Construction of the Great Wall of China began during his reign in 215 B.C.
Shih Huang-ti had total legislative, executive, and judicial power. In 213 B.C., in an attempt to eliminate the slightest possibility of criticism of his authority, he issued a decree ordering the burning of all literature dealing with the humanities that was being kept in private collections. In 212 B.C., he executed 460 Confucians, whom he had accused of stirring up opposition to his power. During his reign, exploitation of the masses intensified. The consequent popular uprisings led to the destruction of the Ch’in Empire after Shih Huang-ti’s death.