Lectures: The Song Sisters Part I & Part II

Song Sisters 2
On January 31 and February 7, Dr. Michel Beniard will deliver two lectures on the Song Sisters. The story of the Song sisters is intrinsically linked to the history of modern China. It is very difficult not to mention the Song sisters if we talk, write about or even evoke the memory of modern China. The Song sisters lived in a time of revolution, change, turmoil and war. A dreadful time, and also a time of tremendous transformation of China.


The Song Sisters 宋姐妹 Part I American education and implications In Chinese politics

The Song sisters were exceedingly westernized having received the major part of their education in the United States; they were consequently fluent in English, they were also methodists having followed the Christian faith of their parents. As a result of this background their position in the Chinese society was peculiar but not uncommon in those times and somehow characteristic of the transformation of China. Politics was present in their home, Charles Jones Song their father was as supporter and a friend of Sun Yat-sen.  Due to their different ideological approach there was a split among the Song sisters. Song Qingling宋慶齡 the wife of Sun Yat-sen 孫中山, inherited the political prestige of her husband. She identified herself with the left of the Guomindang, she favoured a policy of United Front which implied cooperation with the communists. She opposed the new leadership of Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石. Song Meiling 宋美齡 on the other hand was the wife of Chiang Kai-shek and was very active in supporting the policy of her husband. Song Ailing 宋靄齡, a liberal the wife of the banker H.H.Kong was also linked to the Nanking regime.

Date and time: January 31, 10-12 

Venue: Unioninkatu 38 A118

The Song Sisters 宋姐妹  Part II Temporary reconciliation and division 

The period in the life of the Song sisters that will be best remembered will be the period of their reconciliation, at the time of the total Japanese war on China in 1937, also the time of the second united front. Beyond their differences, the remaining image of the Song sisters will be that of three patriotic sisters attracting the attention of the free world for the courageous struggle of China against Japanese aggression. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949, Song Qingling held different official position in the new regime. Song Meiling followed her husband in Taiwan. Song Ailing and her husband moved to the United States in 1948. The Song Sisters were then divided by the stream of history.

Date and time: February 7, 10-12 

Venue: Unioninkatu 38 A118 

About the speaker

Dr. Michel Beniard has studied in Paris. He has a degree in political science [Institut d’études politiques Paris], a degree in Chinese language and history [Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales] and also a degree in grammar and literature [lettres modernes]. He has written a D.E.A [lisensiatti] in Paris on Chinese modern history. He got PhD at the University of Helsinki in East Asian Studies in 2011. The subject of the PhD thesis being: The Far Eastern Question at the Washington Conference (1921-1922) with an outline of its implications for internal politics in China.

He has been a librarian in the Department of Far Eastern Studies, Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, Paris University. In Finland, he was a lecturer in French at Åbo Akademi, and then at the language centre at the University of Helsinki.

Dr. Beniard´s main interest focus on problems of international relations and international law in the Far East between the two world wars.


La médiation officieuse: la spécificité des bons offices dans la gamme de réglement pacifique des différends.pp 295-339, in Finnish Year Book of International Law, Volume XIV,2003.

Shen Congwen 沈 從文 (1908-1988) un auteur mésestimé.pp7-12 in Ex Orientalia Lumina, Finnish Oriental Society,2013.