Soong Ai-ling

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Nancy Soong Ai-ling
Soong Ai-ling.jpg
Born(1889-07-15)15 July 1889
Shanghai International Settlement
Died18 October 1973(1973-10-18) (aged 84)
(m. 1914; died 1967)
Children4, including Kung Ling-i and David Kung Ling-kan
Parent(s)Charlie Soong
Ni Kwei-tseng

Soong Ai-ling (traditional Chinese: 宋藹齡; simplified Chinese: 宋蔼龄; pinyin: Sòng Àilíng), legally Soong E-ling or Eling Soong (July 15, 1889 – October 18, 1973) was a Chinese businesswoman, the eldest of the Soong sisters and the wife of H. H. Kung (Kung Hsiang-Hsi), who was the richest man in the early 20th century Republic of China. The first character of her given name is written as 靄 (same pronunciation) in some texts.[citation needed] Her Christian name was Nancy.


Born in Shanghai,[1] she attended McTyeire School beginning at age 5.[2] Soong Ai-ling arrived in the United States at the Port of San Francisco, California on June 30, 1904, aboard the SS Korea at the age of 14 to begin her education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. She returned to China in 1909 after her graduation. In late 1911, she worked as a secretary for Sun Yat-sen, a job later taken by her sister, Soong Ching-ling, who later became Madame Sun Yat-sen.

Soong Ai-ling met her future husband, Kung Hsiang Hsi, in 1913, and they married the following year in Yokohama. After marrying, Soong taught English for a while and engaged in child welfare work.

In 1936, she founded the Sandai Company (also called Sanbu Company) and became a successful and immensely rich businesswoman in her own right.[3] During the Second Sino-Japanese War, she was active in the Committee of the National Friends of the Wounded Soldiers and the National Refugee Children's Association, and chair of the local Hong Kong section of the Committee of the National Friends of the Wounded Soldiers.[3]

The three Soong sisters made public appearances in Hong Kong in favor of relief work until 1940, when the Japanese radio stated that they would evacuate rather than join the Chinese government in Chongqing to endure the war conditions.[3] In response to this, they left for Chongqing, where they continued to appear to boost public morale touring hospitals, air-raid shelter systems and bomb sites during the war. They founded the Indusco (also called Gungho) organization to protect Chinese industry during wartime conditions, an organization in which Soong Ai-ling was most active of the sisters.[3]

During the later years of the war, Soong Ai-ling, her husband, and her children were accused of graft, corruption, black-marketing and war profiteering.[3] In 1944, her husband was finally asked to step down as minister of finance.[3] She and her husband transferred their immense wealth and business abroad and left for the US.[3]

She died at age 84 on October 18, 1973 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She is interred in a mausoleum at Ferncliff Cemetery in Westchester County, New York.[4]



Media portrayal[edit]

In the 1997 Hong Kong movie The Soong Sisters, Soong Ai-ling was portrayed by actress Michelle Yeoh.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gao, James Z. (2009-06-16). Historical Dictionary of Modern China (1800-1949). Scarecrow Press. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-8108-6308-8.
  2. ^ Pakula, Hannah (2009-11-03). The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China. Simon and Schuster. p. 18. ISBN 9781439154236.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Lily Xiao Hong Lee, A. D. Stefanowska, Sue Wiles: Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: v. 2: Twentieth Century
  4. ^ Hu, Winnie (May 6, 2001). "For Chinese, Bliss Is Eternity in the Suburbs". New York Times.
  5. ^ Lily Xiao Hong Lee (2003). 中國婦女傳記詞典: The Twentieth Century, 1912-2000. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 477–. ISBN 978-0-7656-0798-0.
  6. ^ Frederic E. Wakeman (2003). Spymaster: Dai Li and the Chinese Secret Service. University of California Press. pp. 334–. ISBN 978-0-520-92876-3.
  7. ^ a b Dawson, Jennifer "Bizarre bomb shelter becoming data center", Houston Business Journal. May 12, 2003; retrieved April 9, 2012.
  8. ^ Bacon, James (April 21, 1962). "Debra Paget Weds Oilman, Nephew of Madame Chiang". Independent. p. 11. Retrieved June 11, 2015 – via open access

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]