Two noted female Chinese leaders

Updated: 2013-03-08 07:06

(China Daily)

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Soong Ching Ling (1893-1981) was the wife of Sun Yat-sen, known as the "Father of the Nation" for his instrumental role in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Following the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Soong held several government positions, including that of vice-chairman of the PRC, and was one of the country's most significant political figures of the early 20th century. She regularly traveled overseas as a representative of China during the early 1950s.

Her work revolved around the promotion of world peace, social progress and prosperity, developing mutual understanding, strengthening friendly relations with other countries, protecting the rights and interests of women, education, social welfare and the reunification of the Motherland.

She died in Beijing on May 29, 1981. The China Soong Ching Ling Foundation was established in her memory and was supported by senior State leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping.

In his speech at her funeral, Deng praised Soong as "one of the founders of the People's Republic of China; the honorary president of the country and a beloved leader of the Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots and overseas Chinese."

The CSCLF has been involved in fields such as aid to education and the alleviation of poverty, international exchanges, teacher training, sports and healthcare, the popularization of science and technology, and children's literature and arts.

Wu Yi was born in Central China's Hubei province in 1938. She joined the Communist Party in April 1962 and began her career as an oil refinery technician in August of the same year.

Following a stint as deputy mayor of Beijing from 1988 to 1991, Wu became minister for foreign trade and economic cooperation and was appointed secretary of the ministry's Leading Party Member Group in 1993. In 2003, she became a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and vice-premier of the Leading Party Member Group of the State Council.

In 2007, Wu was listed as one of "The 100 Most Powerful Women" by Forbes magazine. At the time, China was set to replace Germany as the world's third-largest economy and Wu used her diplomatic skills to negotiate agreements with countries worldwide. She retired in 2008.

- Peng Yining

(China Daily 03/08/2013 page7)