Guan Zhong is a well-known historical politician in the Spring and Autumn Period.
Over two thousand years ago, Duke Huan of the State of Qi became the first super-duke. Before becoming duke of the state, Guan Zhong has been the aide to a rival prince, and almost killed Huan with an arrow during battle. Even so, Duke Huan demonstrated the wisdom and magnanimity of an enlightened ruler – he did not hold a grudge against Guan Zhong, but appointed him Prime Minister in 685 BC.
Guan Zhong implemented a number of reforms and soon turned Qi into a strong economic and military power. Guan Zhong modernized the state of Qi by starting multiple reforms. Politically, he centralized power and divided the state into different villages, each carrying out a specific trade. Instead of relying on the traditional aristocracy for manpower, he applied levies to the village units directly. He also developed a better method for choosing talent to be governors. Under Guan Zhong, Qi shifted administrative responsibilities from hereditary aristocrats to professional bureaucrats.
Guan Zhong also introduced several important economic reforms. He created a uniform tax code. He also used state power to encourage the production of salt and iron; historians usually credit Guan Zhong for introducing state monopolies of salt and iron. During his term of office, the state of Qi became much stronger and Duke Huan of Qi gained hegemony among the states.
He is listed as the author of the Guan Zi encyclopedia, actually a much later (late Warring States) compilation of works from the scholars of the Jixia Academy.