Taking to the field from kick-off in Ryan Giggs' first game as boss of the national team, Bale made an swift impact at Nanning's Guangxi Sports Center Stadium by crafting an excellent second-minute solo goal.
A brace from Burnley striker Sam Vokes either side of a stylish finish from Hull City's on-loan Liverpool youngster Harry Wilson piled further misery on China and Bale slotted home to make it 6-0 - claiming the matchball and usurping Rush at the top of his country's all-time standings.
Bale's treble is his first for Wales and, according to Opta, he is the first player to net three in one game since Robbie Earnshaw did at home against Scotland in 2004.
It has been almost 55 years since a Wales player scored a hat-trick in an away game, when Cliff Jones did in Belfast in 1963, while no one had ever scored one outside of the British Isles for the national team.
The 28-year-old has been in good form for Real Madrid since recovering from injury, netting three in his last four games in La Liga.