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The China MystiquePearl S. Buck, Anna May Wong, Mayling Soong, and the Transformation of American Orientalism$
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Karen Leong

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520244221

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520244221.001.0001

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Mayling Soong

Mayling Soong

(p.106) Chapter 4 Mayling Soong
The China Mystique

Karen J. Leong

University of California Press

Mayling Soong was known to most Americans as Madame Chiang Kai-shek, who symbolized the changing relations between the United States and China during the late 1930s through the 1940s. Soong was a symbol not only of China's new womanhood but of new China as well. While nationalism is inherently gendered, Soong's position was unique, because for the Americans, she personified the traditionally masculine as well as the feminine role of China. Mayling Soong experienced American culture before she arrived in the United States. She grew up in the cosmopolitan environment of Wuhan, in which she and her siblings enjoyed the relative privilege of her father's wealth and American connections. Her American education, Christian faith, and the politics of her family further contributed to Soong's knowledge about the United States.

Keywords:   Mayling Soong, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, symbol, relationship, United States, China

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