Bale's future has been the subject of intense scrutinty in recent days, with Real Madrid obviously keen to sign the Wales star.
But his absence this evening had been predicted as Andre Villas-Boas confirmed yesterday Bale was still struggling to shake off a buttock injury.
In his absence, Tottenham cruised home on a pitch that looked more like an aquatics centre at times.
Manchester United have to play here on Monday, although at least there was no rain as the Red Devils coaching staff, including David Moyes and Ryan Giggs, saw Defoe profit from some woeful defending, Tottenham also netting through a Tse Sean Ka Keung own goal, a close-range effort from Clint Dempsey and Andros Townsend's late strike.
Prior to tonight, this has not been the greatest of trips for Tottenham.
What with the speculation over Bale's future, the injury to Jan Vertonghen and concerns over the pitch so great Andre Villas-Boas would have been happy for the game to be called off, Spurs will probably be glad to get on the plane home.
They left with a flourish though, completely outclassing a South China outfit who had run Manchester City close on Wednesday.
By half-time, Tottenham had three goals and could well have scored twice as many.
Clint Dempsey fired over after being sent clean through by Scott Parker, Defoe hit a post and also had a close-range effort saved by Zhang Chunhui.
In addition, referee Neil Swarbrick inexplicably failed to award a penalty when Kyle Walker was blatantly taken out by Joel Bertoli Padiha.
It meant Tottenham had to settle for just three, the first of which came when Tse Sean Ka Keung turned Danny Rose's shot into his own net.
Dempsey then tucked home Defoe's cut-back before the England striker got one himself after Kyle Walker's long-range free-kick was deflected into his path.
Defoe probably scored the easiest goal of his entire career 10 minutes after the re-start when Zhang rolled an attempted clearance straight to him.
With a gaping goal to aim at, Defoe was not likely to miss.
And his hat-trick duly arrived when the South China defence disintegrated once more and Andros Townsend completed the rout late on.