Power of beauty inside & out
Updated: 2012-03-04 07:51
By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)
Soong Ching-ling led the women of China in becoming more aware of their rights and social responsibilities. She had a special concern for the welfare of children and women. [Provided to China Daily]
There is no better way to remember an exceptional woman than to pass forward her convictions and ideals. Tiffany Tan has the details.
This spring, a Chinese organization is looking for women who are more beautiful than the flowers in bloom. This is not a beauty pageant, a reality TV show or a matchmaking activity. It is a search for ordinary Beijing women who are beautiful inside and out. The contest will be launched on Thursday, International Women's Day, and is sponsored by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation to mark 30 years since Soong Ching-ling's Beijing residence opened its doors to the public.
With nominees from all walks of life welcome, it also aims to keep Soong's memory and spirit alive.
Soong (1893-1981) is considered the "mother of the Chinese nation". She was the wife of Dr Sun Yat-sen, the first provisional president of the Republic of China and the revolutionary leader hailed as the "father of modern China".
After Sun's death in 1925, Soong continued fighting for her husband's cause: China's social and economic development, including greater rights for women.
Soong and her two sisters were the first Chinese women to be educated in the United States. (The youngest, Mei-ling, later married Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek). They attended Wesleyan College, the world's oldest women's college, in the state of Georgia.
Soong, who obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1913, is remembered by teachers and classmates for her devotion to her country.
"When dynastic control of China was finally overthrown in 1911, Ching-ling tore down the old banner of the Chinese dragon from her wall and vehemently replaced it with the new flag her father had sent her," a 1997 article in the Wesleyan Magazine says.
"Ching-ling wrote several impassioned essays for the student magazine on the subject of the Chinese Revolution."
At around this time, "she began to speak out against the conditions of women in China, which expressed her ideals of liberty and equality", according to an online profile of Soong by Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Soong organized the China Defense League, which did medical and child welfare work around the country. The organization has since become the China Welfare Institute, with programs in maternity and child health care, preschool education, as well as out-of-school education.
In 1981, shortly before her death, Soong was named honorary president of the People's Republic of China.
"For the Chinese, Soong Ching-ling is the representation of female beauty. She is a perfect combination of Chinese traditional virtue and a spirit that keeps pace with the times," says Shao Qun, head of business development at the Former Residence of Soong Ching-Ling.
In April, the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation will announce the 10 winners of their inaugural "beauty contest". It will be just in time for when Beijing's flowers start blooming.
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