Buddhism known in Emperor Qin's time

China Daily, May 13, 2009

Beijing, China -- The first emperor of a united China could go down in history not only for the Great Wall or the terracotta army of guards and horses, but also for his attempt to crush Buddhism, which was widely prevalent at that time, according to a researcher on Monday.

"China's first and most influential history book, The Historical Records, stated clearly that Emperor Qin Shihuang (259-210 BC) strictly banned Buddhism and Buddhist temples," says Han Wei, a noted researcher with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archeology.

According to the Historical Records, the ban went alongside the emperor's major military strategies including the deportation of the invading Huns, and was applied far beyond the ancient capital Xianyang in today's Xi'an to cover the whole country.

Emperor Qin Shihuang's ban on Buddhism indicated the religion was already popular in China's interior regions in his reign, says Han, whose thesis on the subject was published last week in Xi'an