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Yellow River Tour

"We Want to File A Lawsuit on Behalf of Bao Zheng"

Our first stop was Kaifeng, one of the seven ancient Chinese capitals. Once in this city with a history of about 3,000 years, we could not help thinking of the prosperous city scene depicted in "Riverside Scenes on Qingming Festival", a famous traditional Chinese painting by Zhang Zeduan of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), and of the successive magistrates of the ancient city, such as Ouyang Xiu, Kou Zhun, Fan Zhongyan, Yan Shu and Bao Zheng, who made important contributions to the prosperity of the city.

Almost all tourists who come to Kaifeng wish to visit Baogong Temple to pay respect to Bao Zheng (999-1062, also respectively called Baogong), who was a magistrate in Kaifeng highly esteemed for his strictness in upholding justice and unsubmissiveness to the corrupt and powerful officials.

Baogong Temple had been existed from the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Though the present Baogong Temple located at the bank of the Baogong Lake was a reconstruction undertaken between 1984 and 1987, its layout and color paintings retain the style of high cultural taste of the Song Dynasty. Horizontal inscribed boards and antithetical couplets profound in meaning and featuring beautiful Chinese calligraphy can be found everywhere on the gates and in the halls. The most impressive is a couplet on the gate of the East Hall dedicated to the impartiality of Baogong.

According to Liu Chengyi, the Director of the Management Office of the Temple, the Temple has received over five million visitors since it opened in September, 1987. "Some visitors even brought lawsuits to the temple", Liu told us. "And the worship from overseas tourists has proved as strong as that of the Chinese", he noted.

In 1996, the Temple received 18, 500 overseas tourists. A 15 member group from Singapore brought a wooden statue of Baogong, bolding it in turns all the way from Singapore to Kaifeng. The venue for their activity in memory of Baogong in Singapore is called "The Chancel of Heaven", where a Baogong Temple was built. When the temple was completed last June, they invited experts from the Henan University in Kaifeng to attend the inauguration ceremony. When in Kaifeng, some of the Singapore guests talked about the shortfalls they saw in some television series on Baogong made in Taiwan and the mainland, which they believed could harm the image of Baogong. "We'll file a lawsuit for Baogong", they said jokingly. Their words represent the broadly-held respect for the ancient official.

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