The placed him on the throne when he was barely over 100 days old, despite his having an older brother, Liu Sheng , whose age was unknown but was likely to be young as well.
Empress Dowager Deng also kept Liu Hu , the twelve-year old cousin of Shangdi and future Emperor An of Han in the capital Luoyang as insurance against the baby emperor's death. Liu Hu ascended to the throne when Emperor Shang died in August or September 106; however, Dowager Deng still remained as the regent for the teenager Emperor An. A decree by Empress Dowager Deng during this reign shed light on bureaucratic inefficiency.
Then-Prince Long was born in autumn 105 to and a concubine whose identity is unknown. Because Emperor He had, during his reign, frequently lost sons due to illnesses in childhood, according to the superstitutions of the time, both Prince Long and his older brother Prince Sheng were given to foster parents outside the palace to nurture.
When Emperor He died early 106, his wife, Empress Deng Sui, retrieved the young princes back to the palace. Prince Sheng was older but regarded as frequently ill and unfit for the throne, for Empress Deng first created the infant Prince Long crown prince. The same night, he was proclaimed emperor. Empress Deng became empress dowager.
After Emperor Shang was proclaimed emperor, his brother Prince Sheng was created the Prince of Pingyuan.
Concerned that Emperor Shang might not live long, Empress Dowager Deng also kept Liu Hu, the twelve-year old cousin of Emperor Shang and future Emperor An of Han in the capital Luoyang as insurance against the infant emperor's death.
As Emperor Shang was an infant, actual and formal power were in Empress Deng's hands. Her brother Deng Zhi became the most powerful official in the imperial government. She issued a general pardon, which benefitted the people who had rights stripped from them for associating with the family of Empress Dou.
Late in 106, Emperor Shang died. The officials had by this time realized that Prince Sheng, his older brother, was not as ill as originally thought, and wanted to make him emperor. However, Empress Dowager Deng was concerned that he might bear a grudge at not being made emperor before his brother, and therefore insisted on making Emperor Shang's cousin Prince Hu emperor instead, and he took the throne as Emperor An.
Emperor Shang, having died as a toddler, was not given a separate tomb, as is customary for emperors. Rather, in order to avoid unnecessary expenses, he was buried in the same tomb complex as his father Emperor He.
* ''Yanping'' 106
** Emperor He of Han