Song Qingling (1892
) was a prominent leader in the Chinese Revolution
and later in Mao Zedong
's communist regime.
The daughter of prominent Methodist missionary Charles Jones Song, Song Qingling graduated from Wesleyan College in Macon, GA, and became a leader in revolutionary activities against the declining Qing Dynasty. In 1914 she married the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen and aided him in his agitations against the Qing, and later against Yüan Shih-kai.
When Sun died in 1925 and became a revered cult figure, Song Qingling's special status as his widow helped her secure election to the Kuomintang executive committee. Sympathetic to the communists, Song Qingling resigned from the Kuomintang and went abroad when Chiang Kai-shek broke with the communists in 1927, although she returned to the Koumintang when the Japanese attacked China in 1937.
When communists triumphed after World War II, Mao recognized Song Qingling's value as a tie back to the ideals of the revered Sun Yat-sen, awarding her the post of vice chairman of the People’s Republic of China, which she held from 1949 until her death in 1981. In 1951 she was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize, and in 1953 a collection of her writings, Struggle for New China, appeared.
Interestingly, Song Qingling had two sisters, each of whom also married a prominent revolutionary leader - Song Ailing married K'ung Hsiang-hsi, and Song Meiling married Chiang Kai-shek.