Halep saw off former number one Maria Sharapova earlier this week on Beijing's outside hard courts and her defeat of Ostapenko had a whiff of revenge-the 20-year-old won their duel in the French Open final earlier this year, depriving Halep of a first Grand Slam.
She will move ahead of Garbine Muguruza when the new WTA rankings are out on Monday.
Halep recorded 12 winners against six unforced errors and broke Sharapova's serve on two occasions to win the match in one hour, 12 minutes.
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In Beijing this week, she along with Elina Svitolina were in contention to replace US Open champion Muguruza at the top of the rankings.
During the season Halep has been in step from the status of the first racket of the world, but neither Roland Garros nor Wimbledon failed to gain the required number of points.
Second-seed Halep, 26, won her first match against the Russian after seven consecutive losses, most recently about one month ago at the US Open first round.
In the second, Halep surrendered a 3-2 lead with a service break in the sixth game, but went on to break back three games later. "It's wonderful that I have done this", Halep said in her on-court interview. I'm really happy that I could do this.
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"It was the toughest year but also the best year", said Halep.
The last Premier Mandatory event of the season has turned into a place of retribution Halep who cast out some of her recent demons. It's the best moment in my life and I want just to keep it.
She added: "In the French Open I was a set and 3-0 [up], so here was a little bit different".
"It's very emotional, I think it's the first time I cried on court", Halep said during the ranking presentation ceremony.
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