On 5 April 2017, the SCO Women's Club held an away session at the former residence of Mrs Soong Ching Ling, the widow of the great Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen.
In front of the main gate, the guests were welcomed by a team of guides, volunteers from the Beijing Pedagogical University, and best third-year pupils selected from 19 Beijing secondary schools, who introduced the visitors to Mrs Soong Ching Ling's incredibly interesting, difficult and eventful life.
The Vice Chairman of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, Mr Hang Yuanxiang, delivered a welcoming speech in the spacious hall of the museum, in front of the majestic seated sculpture of the last house owner. He gave a brief account of her life and dwelled on the Foundation's 35-year history, impressive performance, and short-term plans.
"China is home to an apple-tree variety the blossom of which can be admired for just one week. Soong Ching Ling often invited friends at that time of the year so that later she could recall their faithful friendship. The custom was resumed in the year 2010, with the blossoming season of the "wonderful apple tree" attracting guests from all over the world. As a unifying factor, the Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence is increasingly popular and famous," Mr Hang Yuanxiang explained.
SCO Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Wang Kaiwen thanked the museum heads for their hospitable reception and praised the Foundation's important contribution to strengthening China's friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign countries. "The policy of people's diplomacy pursued by the Foundation and its concern for the rising generations and young people are a token of success in the future," he said.
The event was accompanied by melodic tunes played on the guzheng, Chinese national plucked string instrument. The guests attended a tea ceremony, an incense lighting ceremony, and demonstrations by expert florists and cutters of traditional paper designs.
Soong Ching Ling (1893-1981), the wife of Sun Yat-sen, Honorary President of the People's Republic of China, an outstanding woman, who played an important role in China's 20th-century history, and a beloved granny of all Chinese children and teenagers.
The Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence was opened in 1982 after the great woman, who spent the last 18 years of her life there, passed away. The museum is in a picturesque location measuring 2 hectares on the northern shore of Lake Houhai. The house was recommended to Mrs Soong by Zhou Enlai, because it is conveniently located and has a rich history: it is there that the last Chinese Emperor, Pu Yi, was born and raised. The museum displays a rich collection of original artifacts, including written documents, photographs and personal effects (even an automobile presented by Joseph Stalin), which used to belong to that famous Chinese woman and her great husband.
The China Soong Ching Ling Foundation was established in 1982 and continues to perform what the founders thought was its mission — defending peace, promoting China's unification, and providing comprehensive help to children. The Foundation is active in such areas as education, culture, sport, healthcare, science and technology, etc. It also seeks to strengthen friendship and dialogue between people living on both shores of the Strait of Taiwan and helps young people in their pursuits.