Soong Mei-ling

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Soong Mei-ling

Soong Mei-ling (March 5, 1898October 23, 2003), also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek or Madame Chiang, was a Chinese political figure who was First Lady of the Republic of China, the wife of Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek. Soong played a prominent role in the politics of the Republic of China and during the Second Sino-Japanese War, she rallied her people against the Japanese invasion; and in 1943 conducted an eight-month speaking tour of the United States of America to gain support. Her life traversed three centuries.

Quotes[edit]

  • On July 7, 1937, Japan launched an all-out war on China. Through the first four and one-half years of total aggression, China defended herself unaided and alone. Not until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, in December of 1941.. .did the U.S. and China become allies. The combined effort of our two countries laid a solid foundation for the final victory in 1945. In those years of blood and tears, let us remember the moral courage of the people of the United States and China fighting shoulder to shoulder.

Address to the U.S. House of Representatives (February 18, 1943)[edit]

Excerpts from Address to the U.S. House of Representatives, delivered 18 February 1943, Washington, D.C.

  • It has been said, and I find it true from personal experience, that it is easier to risk one's life on the battlefield than it is to perform customary humble and humdrum duties which, however, are just as necessary to winning the war.
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  • The second impression of my trip is that America is not only the cauldron of democracy but the incubator of democratic principles. At some of the places I visited, I met the crews of your air bases. There, I found first generation Germans, Italians, Frenchmen, Poles, Czechoslovakians, and other nationals. Some of them had accents so thick, that if such a thing were possible, one could not cut them with a butter knife. But there they were, all Americans, all devoted to the same ideals, all working for the same cause, and united by the same high purpose. No suspicion or rivalry existed between them. This increased my belief and faith that devotion to common principles eliminates differences in race and that identity of ideals is the strongest possible solvent of racial dissimilarities.
  • I have reached your country, therefore, with no misgivings, but with my belief that the American people are building and carrying out a true pattern of the nation conceived by your forebears, strengthened and confirmed.
  • Again, now the prevailing opinion seems to consider the defeat of the Japanese as of relative unimportance and that Hitler is our first concern. This is not borne out by actual facts, nor is it to the interests of the United Nations as a whole to allow Japan to continue, not only as a vital potential threat but as a waiting sword of Damocles, ready -- but as a waiting sword of Damocles ready to des[cend] at a moment's notice.
  • We of this generation who are privileged to help make a better world for ourselves and for posterity should remember that, while we must not be visionary, we must have vision so that peace should not be punitive in spirit and should not be provincial or nationalistic or even continental in concept, but universal in scope and -- and humanitarian in action, for modern science has so annihilated distance that what affects one people must of necessity affect all other peoples.
  • We in China, like you, want a better world, not for ourselves alone, but for all mankind, and we must have it. It is not enough, however, to proclaim our idea[l]s or even to be convinced that we have them. In order to preserve, uphold, and maintain them, there are times when we should throw all we cherish into our effort to fulfill these ideals even at the risk of failure.
  • We must have the vision so that peace should not be punitive in spirit and should not be provincial or nationalistic or even continental in concept; but universal in scope and humanitarian in action, for modern science has so annihilated distance that what affects one people must of necessity affect all others.
  • The teachings drawn from our late leader, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, have given our people the fortitude to carry on. From five and a half years of experience, we in China are convinced that it is the better part of wisdom not to accept failure ignominiously, but to risk it gloriously.
  • We shall have faith, that, at the writing of peace, America and our other gallant Allies will not be obtunded by the mirage of contingent reasons of expediency.
  • Man's mettle is tested both in adversity and in success. Twice is this true of the soul of a nation.

China Emergent (May 1942)[edit]

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"China Emergent" by Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in the Atlantic

  • We in China, though we have been harried for years by death and destruction, have been giving careful thought toward the perfection of a political and social system that will ensure in the future the greatest good for the greatest number.
  • We have chosen the path that we shall tread in the future. We are determined that there shall be no more exploitation of China. I have no wish to harp on old grievances, but realism demands that I should mention the ruthless and shameless exploitation of our country by the West in the past and hard-dying illusion that the best way to win our hearts was to kick us in the ribs. Such asinine stupidities must never be repeated, as much for your own sake as for ours. America and Britain have already shown their consciousness of error by voluntarily offering to abrogate the iniquitous system of extraterritoriality that denied China her inherent right to equality with other nations.
  • While as a nation we are resolved that we will not tolerate foreign exploitation we are equally determined that within our country there be no exploitation of any section of society by any other section or even by the state itself. The possession of wealth does not confer upon the wealthy the right to take unfair advantage of the less fortunate.
  • We are striving to institute a flexible system of political and economic development that will serve the future as well as the present. This attempt started directly China became a republic, thirty-one years ago, and has continued even throughout the war years. In order to give our people fuller and better opportunities for a well-rounded and happier life, a new kind of Chinese socialism, based on democratic principles, is evolving.
  • I have already referred to Chinese socialism, for our political compass shows our ship of state ploughing in that direction. Nevertheless, some people are alarmed at the very word ‘socialism,’ much as a timid horse shies away from its own shadow. Actually, though not called by that name, socialism has influenced national thought in China for decades, even amid the confusion caused by civil unrest and the present war. But it does not have any affiliation with communism. The Chinese do not accept the much-mooted theory of enriching the poor by dispossessing present owners of their wealth, nor do they believe such a step would give any prospect of an enduring alleviation of poverty and human misery.
  • Chinese socialism, if you like to call it that, seeks above all else to preserve the birthrights of the individual. No state can be great and prosperous unless the people are contented.
  • One of our national characteristics is not to do things without careful deliberation. Those who are privileged to direct the aspirations of a quarter of the world’s population have a wonderful opportunity but a fearful responsibility.
  • Considering what China has already accomplished in the face of heartbreaking obstacles, we confront the future with calmness and confidence. The difficulties before us are stupendous; but with the help, from our sister democracies, of technique and capital, which we have proved we deserve, we have no doubt we can solve our problems.

Quotes about Soong-Mei Ling[edit]

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  • The formidable wife of Nationalist China's leader, she fought her own corner as ruthlessly as she defended his.
  • After Chiang died, Mei-ling's move to Long Island was barely reported. By the 1990s, many believed she must have died. She refused Beijing's invitation to attend the funeral of her sister Ching-ling in 1981, though when Ching-kuo died in 1988, she became briefly involved in an effort to prevent the Taiwan-born Li Teng-hui from succeeding him. It was soon announced, however, that, though she still had a "strong will", she would no longer "intervene in state affairs." Finally, Soong Mei-ling had lost the art for intrigue and the zest for power that sustained for so long her formidable role as Nationalist China's Dragon Lady.

External links[edit]