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Woman of her time: Hakka Song Qingling
Soong also spelled SUNG, Pinyin SONG QINGLING (b. Jan. 27, 1892,
Shanghai--d. May 29, 1981, Peking), second wife of the Chinese
revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen. She became an influential Chinese
political figure after her husband's death.
Educated in the United States, Soong Ch'ing-ling married Sun Yat-sen, 26
years her senior, in 1914. After Sun's death (1925) Soong Ch'ing-ling
assumed an active role in politics, supporting the left wing of the
Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, which had been founded by Sun Yat-sen) when
it split with the right wing of the party, later headed by Chiang Kai-shek.
In 1927, when the left-wing Nationalists purged their Communist members and
reunited with the right-wing Nationalists, she denounced the organization
as having betrayed the ideals of Sun Yat-sen. She then left China for the
Soviet Union, where she remained for two years.
After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Soong Ch'ing-ling
organized the China Defense League, which did medical relief and child
welfare work, especially in the Communist-controlled areas of the country.
During this period she also became temporarily reunited with her sister
Soong Mei-ling (the wife of Chiang Kai-shek) and her brother T.V. Soong,
one of China's leading industrialists and a powerful official in the
In 1948 she became honorary chairman of the Kuomintang Revolutionary
Committee, a splinter group organized in Hong Kong to oppose Chiang
Kai-shek's Kuomintang. After the establishment of the People's Republic of
China in 1949, Soong Ch'ing-ling remained on the mainland, where she was
held in great deference by the Communists because she symbolized a link
between the People's Republic and the older revolutionary movement of Sun
Yat-sen. She became an important official within the new government, and in
1951 she was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize for her work on welfare and
peace committees. In 1966 during the Cultural Revolution she was criticized
by the Red Guards, but she retained her position. In 1981 she was named
honorary Chairman of the People's Republic.