Soong Ching-ling (Former Vice Chairman of China/Former Honorary President of China)

soong-ching-ling.jpgSoong Ch'ing-ling (simplified Chinese: 宋庆龄; traditional Chinese: 宋慶齡; pinyin: Sòng Qìnglíng; Wade-Giles: Sung Ch'ing-ling) (27 January 1893 – 29 May 1981), also known as Madame Sun Yat-sen, was one of the three Soong sisters—who, along with their husbands, were amongst China's most significant political figures of the early 20th century.

She was the Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China. She was the first non-royal woman to officially become head of state of China, acting as Co-Chairman of the Republic  from 1968 until 1972. She again became head of state in 1981, briefly before her death, as the Honorary President of the People's Republic of China. Soong is sometimes regarded as Asia's first female non-monarchial head of state, although her title of Honorary President of the People's Republic of China was purely ceremonial.

She was born to the wealthy businessman and missionary Charlie Soong in Nanshi (a part of present-day Huangpu District), Shanghai, attended McTyeire School for Girls in Shanghai, and graduated from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States. Her Christian name was Rosamond (in her early years, she signed her letters as Rosamonde Soong).

She married Sun Yat Sen in Japan on 25 October 1915; he had previously been married to Lu Muzhen. Ching-ling's parents greatly opposed the match, as Dr. Sun was 26 years her senior. After Sun's death in 1925, she was elected to the Kuomintang (KMT) Central Executive Committee in 1926. However, she exiled herself to Moscow after the expulsion of the Communists from the KMT in 1927.

Soong reconciled with the KMT during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). She did not join the party, but rather was part of the united front heading up the Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang. In 1939, she founded the China Defense League, which later became the China Welfare Institute. The committee now focuses on maternal and pediatric healthcare, preschool education, and other children's issues.

During the Chinese Civil War, she sided with the Communists.

After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, she became the Vice Chair of the People's Republic of China (now translated as "Vice President"), Head of the Sino-Soviet Friendship Association and Honorary President of the All-China Women's Federation. In 1951 she was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize (Lenin Peace Prize after destalinization).

In the early 1950s, she founded the magazine, China Reconstructs, now known as China Today, with the help of Israel Epstein. This magazine is published monthly in six languages (Chinese, English, French, German, Arabic and Spanish). In 1953, a collection of her writings, Struggle for New China, was published.

She became the first female Chairman and President of the People's Republic of China. From 1968 to 1972 she acted jointly with Dong Biwu as head of state.

On 16 May 1981, two weeks before her death, she was admitted to the Communist Party and was named Honorary President of the People's Republic of China. She is the only person ever to hold this title.

Related Links:
Soong Ching-ling on Wikipedia