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The Ming dynasty (1368-1664) of China was one of the country's golden ages which saw a growing importance of merchants and economy, at the cost of a weakening of imperial power. Commerce was intense even in rural areas, which is why markets were numerous in the land. The government had also abolished mandatory forced labor by peasants and replaced it with wage labor. As a result, peasants and laborers were a real part of society, with enough money to spend and feed back into the economic system.