Soong Ching-ling and Nepali women delegation visit 1956

Picture: Soong Ching-ling meeting Mrs. Punya Prabha Devi and representatives of Nepal who came to China to participate in the Council of the International Democratic Women's Federation in her apartment in Shanghai

Context: On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, we look back at Honorary President (or Chairwomen) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Soong Ching-Ling’s meeting with women delegation of Nepal including Mrs. Punya Prabha Devi in 1956.

In the 1950-60, Soong Ching-ling, honorary chairwoman of the People’s Republic of China, met and hosted several foreign dignitaries in her personal residence in No. 1843 Middle Huaihai Road, Shanghai. Being the peace envoy of the new China, she has met with heads of governments or delegations from Indonesia, India, the Soviet Union, Nepal, North Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mexico and other countries.

Soon after Nepal and China establish diplomatic relations in 1955, the Nepali women’s delegation visited China to participate in the Council of the International Democratic Women’s Federation in 11 May 1956. The Nepali women’s delegation including Mrs. Punya Prabha Devi was hosted in Soong Ching-ling’s residence where they cordial and friendly conversation and delivered a letter from the Nepali Prime Minister Tanka Prasad Acharya.

In the letter, Prime Minister Acharya said: “We have been inspired by the heroic struggle carried on by the Chinese women for the cause of the Revolution. Women all over the world are taking an increasing interest in the progress of humanity in the emancipation of their own sex from age-old bondage”

He also added: “Nepal has recently entered into the arena of international politics. The recent establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China will, I am confident, be of help towards the consummation of our ideal ensuring life, liberty and pursuit of happiness to all people of the world, and specially to those of the under developed countries.”

The letter ends with expressing confidence towards Soong Ching-ling and China for looking after the Nepali women delegation. He further hopes that the delegation will not only bring pleasant memories “but also the urge and fervor of the Revolution which has inspired the women” of China.

Along with the letter was “a shawl and some pair of Nepalese slippers”.

The next day, Soong Ching-ling handed a response letter to Nepali Prime Minister Acharya to Mrs. Punya Prabha Devi and requested her to forward it.

In Soong Ching-ling’s reply, she expressed being touched by Prime Minister Acharya’s acknowledgement of Chinese women’s role in liberating China “from foreign domination and internal bondages”. She offered congratulations for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China and mentioned about having a met the Nepali women’s delegation and received the souvenirs from Nepal. She reciprocated by sending some mementoes with Mrs. Punya Prabha Devi.

On May 12, 1956, Soong Ching-ling’s reply letter to Nepali Prime Minister Acharya.

On the morning of October 9, 1956, the visiting Nepali Prime Minister Acharya and his wife visited the kindergarten of the China Welfare Institute, and in the afternoon attended an event in the Children’s Palace.

In the evening, Soong Ching-ling hosted a banquet for Prime Minister Acharya and his wife at her residence in Shanghai.

Soong Ching Ling said in an article titled “Five Years Ago and Now” published in January 1957: “I myself have visited India, Burma, Pakistan and Indonesia in the past few years. Every time I visit a place, I feel the warmth of the people’s sincere friendship. The leaders of these Asian countries – Indian Prime Minister Nehru and Burmese Prime Minister U Nu in 1954, Indonesian President Sukarno and Pakistani Prime Minister Sulawati and Nepali Prime Minister Acharya in 1956, they visited our country successively. They have always been our dear and respected guests.”