Soong Ching-ling and China

Planning a trip to Beijing several months ago, my sister asked me what she should see. The Forbidden City and Great Wall of China came to mind, of course. But then I remembered my favorite place in Beijing. "Above all," I said, "see the home of Soong Ching-ling." I discovered it four years ago, without fully comprehending who Soong Ching-ling was or why she is considered the mother of modern China. I was wandering through alleyways, known as hutongs (some so small and maze-like they aren't shown on maps), in the old-fashioned northern lake district of Beijing where princes lived. Ching-ling's low-slung, many-winged house, surrounded by a lush garden, is on the grounds of a mansion owned by the father of the last Qing Dynasty emperor, Pu Yi, who abdicated in 1911. -- Susan Spano Read more: In China, getting a history lesson and glimpsing the life of a patriot Upper photo: Soong Ching-ling's Beijing home
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