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Who was Hai Rui, and why should we care?

Updated on August 25, 2012

Hai Rui Was Known in Chinese History For Being Incorruptible

Hai Rui was raised by his mother, a Hui nationality woman living in Haikou, in the Moslem faith. He prepared for the Imperial examinations, to enter the state's bureaucracy, but initially failed in his endeavours. Only when he turned 35 years old did he commence his career as a lowly education clerk.

Hai Rui developed a reputation for scrupulous honesty, diligence and fairness. This won him many friends from the peasant classes, but also many enemies within the bureaucracy. He is still revered and his tomb in Haikou is still visited by many mainland tourists for worship.

Image: drs2biz | Lens Updated: August 25th, 2012 @ 8:30 pm Beijing time.

Hairui Worries About The Floods.
Hairui Worries About The Floods.

He was that rarest of mortal beings... an INCORRUPTIBLE public servant!

He spoke without fear or favour... even to the omnipotent emperors!

He was an intellectual who solved complex problems to the benefit of all!

This image shows Hai Rui was very worried about the people because there was a flood in two rivers... Wu Song Jiang and Bai Mao He. They had no place to live and were evacuated to other Provinces and villages.

Hai Rui bust
Hai Rui bust

Hai Rui on Wikipedia ~ at a Glance

Read what the online reference source has to say...


Hai Rui () (23 January 1514 - 13 November 1587), was a famous Chinese official during of the Ming Dynasty. His name has come down in history as a model of honesty and integrity in office and he re-emerged as an important historical character during the Cultural Revolution.


read the rest of the Wikipedia article.

Hai Rui at his work as an honest and upright official.
Hai Rui at his work as an honest and upright official.

Hai Rui ~ a Model of an Upright, Honest Official

Hai Rui (1514 to 1587 CE), who called himself Gang Feng, was from the Qiongshan district of Haikou. He was commissioned by an official from Nanping and undertook the position of county magistrate of Chun'an and Xing Guo counties. Hai Rui undertook land surveys meticulously and accurately as well as making the burden of taxation more equitable.

Hai Rui carefully considered all the issues he was confronted with, and resolved many doubtful cases. On the appointment of Administrator of National Taxation Revenue of Yunnan, Hai Rui wrote "A memorial to state outright the first important thing" to Emperor Shizong, commenting on his Taoist superstitions and ignoring politics. He was imprisoned for this letter. When he was the governor of the province, he published the "One Scourge" policy of state revenue, ordering officials to return agricultural land. Instead, he was dismissed from office and lived at home with no political affairs to handle for the next 16 years.

On turning 71, Hai Rui was reappointed by the Court, and he did his best to punish corruption. He died of illness while still in office.

Hai Rui was honest, upright and outspoken. He conducted himself in a clean and fair manner and was the epitome of an "honest and upright official" from all of Chinese history.

Statue at Hairui Park in Qiongshan, Haikou - Browse through more images from his hometown...

Statue of Hairui at his home in a park in Qiongshan, Haikou.
Statue of Hairui at his home in a park in Qiongshan, Haikou.

This image is curated from a set of images captured at Hai Rui Park (Hai Rui Gong Yuan), situated at Qiongshan, on the western outskirts of Haikou - the capital city of Hainan Province in China. You can view more images from this memorial to the great man here on Flickr.

A Statue of Hai Rui in Qiongshan Temple

A Statue of Hai Rui in Qiongshan Temple
A Statue of Hai Rui in Qiongshan Temple
Hui Nationality Moslem Koran
Hui Nationality Moslem Koran

Some Controversies Surrounding Hai Rui

Reputations of famous people never remain unscathed...

Criticism of Emperor's Religion - Despite his personal Moslem faith, Hai Rui sent a letter of impeachment to Emperor Jiajing, criticising his excessive devotion to Taoism and neglect of state affairs. He was sentenced to death for this act of temerity, but escaped this punishment and was later reinstated by Emperor Longqing.

Flaying of Corrupt Officials - Hai Ruyi was said to have suggested to his emperor that corrupt officials should be flayed, because he was so determined to stamp out the misuse of official power.

Ha Rui Dismissed from Office - In 1962 CE Wu Han, deputy mayor of Beijing, wrote a play about Hai Rui's dismissal that was later staged as a play. It was eventually demonised in the National newspapers as being an allegory for real-life events from 1959, where the Minister of National Defence (Peng Da Huai) was dismissed from his post by Chairman Mao Zedong. The resulting outrage of this inferred criticism of the national leadership helped establish the preconditions for the resulting Cultural Revolution!

Image of Mural From Hai Rui's Tomb in Biya Village - Take a look at images from Hai Rui's Haikou burial site...

Hairui Mural at his tomb in Biya Village
Hairui Mural at his tomb in Biya Village

This memorial mausoleum to the great man is a tourist attraction in Haikou city. The capital of Hainan Province in China. Take a look at some more images from the site of Hairui's Tomb on this set on Flickr.

Hai Rui: an Upright Official or Dour Killjoy? - Register what you think of him...

Hai Rui at his work as an honest and upright official.
Hai Rui at his work as an honest and upright official.

Quick, what do you think of Hai Rui?

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Did you enjoy reading about Hai Rui? Leave your comments and questions below. Please take the time to rate this lens at the top LH corner of the page. If you enjoyed it, you may care to mark it as a favourite as well!

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What Do You Think About Hai Rui? - Now Have Your Say About This Hai Rui Lens...

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    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 

      8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Finally featured at Learning About China Headquarters.

    • drs2biz lm profile imageAUTHOR

      David Schroeter 

      8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      @SandyMertens: Thanks Sandy. He reminds me of Ron Paul... he called it the way it was!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      He was an incredible man. Thanks for sharing this.

    • drs2biz lm profile imageAUTHOR

      David Schroeter 

      8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      @jimmielanley: Thanks, Jimmie. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 

      8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Hui Rui is my new hero! ;-) I'm not in favor of worshiping men (only the One True God is worthy of that), but I am all for routing out corruption and for honest! Beautiful lens.

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