China Underground > Magazine > China Magazine > How the Confucian Temple’s Destruction Began China’s Cultural Revolution

How the Confucian Temple’s Destruction Began China’s Cultural Revolution

How the Cultural Revolution Targeted Confucian Symbols

The Tomb of Hai Rui in Haikou on Hainan Island was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution by gangs of angry kids (later, the red guards) against the symbols of the past.

In this case, the fault of Hai Rui, an upright official of the Ming court, a symbol of morality and honesty, was to be the protagonist of an article written in 1959 by Wu Han, an official of the Communist Party.

The article was later translated in a Peking opera piece played by Yao Wenyuan, a member of the notorious Gang of Four, as an allegory of Peng Dehuai, disgraced by Mao for having openly criticized the disaster of the Great Leap Forward.

Related articles: 7 Cultural Revolution memorabilia, Chinese Navy Drills, Cultural Revolution Propaganda Images, 14 Cultural Revolution Propaganda Postcards, Sino-Soviet Propaganda Images

According to the interpretation, the corrupt figure of the Emperor was to be read as a metaphor for Chairman Mao.

In an article on November 10, 1965, appeared in a Shanghai newspaper, titled “Critique of the historical drama ‘Hai Rui dismissed from his office‘ ‘, written by Yao himself, the figure of the famous imperial official was deeply criticized.

The following article has been read as the fuse that detonated the Cultural Revolution, which wiped out the ancient Chinese culture.

Hai Rui was an official of Arab origin, who began his career in the bureaucracy in old age as an employee of education in Fujian, at 39 years, after having failed the imperial examinations a few years earlier.

However, he managed to build a reputation based on morality, on a scrupulous honesty, and justice. This attitude soon won him many enemies among the corrupt bureaucrats. In 1565 he sent a memorial to the Emperor that cost him the death penalty in the following year. Fortunately, after the Emperor’s death, he was pardoned in 1567.

Under the Longqing reign, he was partially rehabilitated until 1570 when it was forced to give up his post again.

After 15 years spent in retirement in Haikou, he was completely rehabilitated under Emperor Wanli in 1585.

Hai Rui died two years later.


Sources: Wikipedia, Ifeng (

Post Author


The bizarre story of Chang, the multilingual Chinese giant

38 Stunning Images of the Sino-Vietnamese War


Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us

2 thoughts on “How the Confucian Temple’s Destruction Began China’s Cultural Revolution”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.