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Ancient Chinese Upright Official Bao Zheng Remembered

By Sunday, a total of three million admirers had visited the renovated tomb of , famed in Chinese history as an honest and upright official.

Since it is a weekend, the tomb area is crowded with tourists. But the visitors observe a reverent silence as they kowtow and burn joss sticks at the tomb.

In the souvenir shop, tourists buy T-shirts printed with Bao's portrait or other related items. One tourist was allowed to visit the area free of charge simply because his surname was Bao too.

The tomb is located in the eastern suburbs of this capital of east China's Anhui Province. In 1973, Chinese archaeologists discovered 35 pieces of bone, which were identified as parts of Bao's remains.

The city government of Hefei decided in 1987 to construct a new tomb to bury the bones. The tomb area covers three ha.

Ding Zhibing, a management official of the tomb area, said that since the new tomb opened to the public, more than 200,000 visitors a year have flocked from all over the world to pay their respects to the official. Apart from ordinary Chinese people, the visitors have also included Chinese leaders and 65,000 overseas tourists.

"Bao was not only an upright official in the eyes of the Chinese people; he is also respected by more and more people worldwide," Ding added. Bao Zheng (Bao Gong), who was born in April 999. in present- day Feidong County near Hefei City, was a senior official of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). He was highly esteemed for his strictness in upholding justice and opposing corruption no matter how powerful the miscreant. Bao died in 1062. Kong Fanmin, a leading historian, said that Bao's life not only represents his high standards of morality and ethics; it also demonstrates his ideas of equality and the rule of law.

Many later officials modeled their conduct on that of Bao Zheng. Bao Zheng, eulogized in Chinese literary works in many forms through the ages, has always been portrayed with a black face and a crescent-shaped scar on his forehead, suggesting the impartiality and uprightness of an ancient Chinese official.

Yang Xiao, an official from Beijing, who visited the tomb on May 20, said that Hefei's most attractive site to him is the tomb.

"Though Bao was not a representative of the real spirit of democracy and the legal system as we understand them today, he is still an inspiration to officials," Yang said.

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