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March 3, 2021

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Soong memorial building reopens

The main building of the Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence in Shanghai reopened to the public yesterday after being closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The memorial shut on January 24 last year, after the novel coronavirus outbreak. On March 20, it reopened but the main building remained closed.

“The city was under stricter virus prevention and control measures at that time and we were afraid the enhanced disinfection would damage exhibits in the building, which are authentic,” said Song Shijuan, vice curator of the memorial. “Now, life in Shanghai has returned to normal and it’s time for us to reopen it to the public.”

She said more than 400 people visited the memorial residence and the main building yesterday.

The residence was where Soong, honorary president of the People’s Republic of China and the wife of Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Kuomintang, spent most of her life.

Soong was born and grew up in Shanghai. She married Sun in 1915 and assisted him in his revolutionary efforts. After he died in 1925, she continued to play an important role in China’s social and political development.

Soong moved into the residence in the spring of 1949 and lived there until her death in 1981. In October that year, it was unveiled as a memorial to Soong and it opened to the public in May 1988.

The residence, covering 4,830 square meters, was built in 1920 and refurbished in 1990, 2006 and 2018.

The main building, a three-story white brick-wood structure, was originally built by a Greek shipping magnate, so it’s shaped like a boat when looked at from the front. There are shipping-related elements, such as a fish-shaped wind vane on top of the building and sailboat patterns on wind-shades.

There is a hallway, a living room, a dining room and two study rooms on the first floor while Soong’s bedroom and office were on the second floor.

Visitors can find out about Soong and the important role she played in China.

In the house, she witnessed the liberation of Shanghai and accepted an invitation to attend the first plenary session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Soong served in several prominent positions, including vice president.

She not only met senior Chinese leaders including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi, but also foreign heads of state, such as Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president, and Kim Il Sung, founding leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In the dining room, there is a piece of embroidery presented by Kim during his visit on December 5, 1958, and a bronze sword presented by Sukarno.

The memorial residence is open between 9am and 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday with a daily limit of 1,500 visitors. Only 300 visitors are allowed into the residence at any one time and 50 to the main building.


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