Emperor Wu of Han (156 BC – 87BC), personal name Liu Che, was the sixth emperor of China emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. A military campaigner, Han China reached its greatest expansion under his reign, spanning from Kyrgyzstan in the west, Northern Korea in the Northeast, to Northern Vietnam in the south. He was best known for his role in expelling the nomadic Xiongnu from the boundary of China. The Han people named themselves after him.
Emperor Wu dispatched his envoy Zhang Qian in 139 BC to seek an alliance with the Yuezhi of modern Uzbekistan. Zhang returned in 123 BC and Emperor Wu then sent many missions per year to Central Asia.
In his prior emperors’ reign, the dynasty’s goal was to relieve the society of harsh laws, wars, and conditions from both the Qin Dynasty, external threats from nomads, and early internal conflicts within the Han court. The government reduced taxation and assumed a subservient status to neighboring nomadic tribes. This policy of the government’s reduced role over civilian lives, and started a period of stability. However, under Emperor Wu’s leadership, the Empire gained the initiative in the upgrading border disputes and was able to fight back. At his height, China incorporated the present day Qinghai, Gansu, and northern Vietnam into its territories.
During the end of his reign, his power was severely weakened. Open war broke out between rival families of the Empress Wei and the Li clan. The Li family killed most of Empress Wei’s family and forced Empress Wei to commit suicide; during this time, Wu Was forced to flee. In the end, Wu was too weak to even name his own successor, who was chosen two days before Wu’s death.