Mr. Chee Kwon Chun won "Soong Ching Ling Camphor Tree Award"
by the China Welfare Institute.
Mr. Chee Kwon Chun is a legendary figure among the directors of the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation.
It has been 30 years since I met Mr. Chee Kwon Chun, Mrs. Sau Chun Wong Chun and their daughter Yen Chun for the first time in 1988. And I have had the honor of meeting them in Shanghai many times and listening to their stories. In late April this year at the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation’s annual council meeting, I was happy to meet Ms. Yen Chun, SSCLF’s overseas director, she told me “his father, Mr. Chee Kwon Chun passed away in 2010 at the age of 100 and her mother, Mrs. Sau Chun Wong Chun, is still healthy now aged 102 years old, having water exercises 5 times a week and playing ukulele once a week.”
On Christmas, 2013, Yan Chen’s couple, their son and daughter,
and grand-mother Sau Chun Wong Chun together
On the afternoon of one day in the summer of 1988, I accompanied the China Welfare Institute and the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation secretary general Ms. Du Shuzhen to meet Mr. Chee kwon Chun, founder of the Soong Ching Ling Foundation in the United States and his wife, Sau Chun Wong Chun and escort them to visit the China Welfare Institute Children’s Palace.
They were impressed by the wonderful performances of the children in dance room, musical instruments playing room and chorus room, which made them excited. In the reception room, Du Shuzhen briefed them on the purpose, mission and activities of the first national children’s palace founded by Soong Ching Ling. Mr. Chee Kwon Chun introduced to Du Shuzhen that “1989 is the bicentennial of Chinese arrival in Hawaii, and the overseas Chinese in Hawaii plan to hold a series of annual celebrations, so the organizing committee sincerely invites the Chinese Welfare Institute Children’s Palace Little Companion Art Troupe to give celebration performances in Hawaii, USA”. After nearly one year of joint efforts and careful preparations, on July 4, 1989, the Shanghai Little Companion Art Troupe consisting of 45 people flew to Hawaii to stage five celebration performances in Honolulu in Oahu and three neighboring islands -- Big Island, Maui and Kauai islands. The performances were great successes.
In July, 1989 Little Companion Art Troupe visit and perform in Hawaii.
In the end of each performance, the local Overseas Chinese came to the backstage to congratulate the children, praise the performance, and they said excitedly, “There are such good children, China has great hope”. The Hawaiian State governor's wife hosted a buffet lunch at the Aiolani Palace in the center of Honolulu to welcome the Little Companion Art Troupe to Hawaii for wonderful performances. In 1997 and 2000, Ms. Yen Chen and her team again invited the art troupe to visit and perform in Hawaii and the mainland of the United States.
Chee Kwon Chun’s couple, Yan Chun and her son Zuo Yiping
at Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten in Shanghai
Chee Kwon Chun’s couple have a pair of children, son called Ping Chun, daughter called Yen Chun. Ping Chun, was killed in a crash in Chicago in 1979, when he was 26 years old. American Airlines and Douglas MacDonald company were responsible for the flight crash. In order to obtain compensation from American Airline and McDonald Douglas, they went through 10 years of painful lawsuits, from the District Court to the Federal Court and then the Court of Appeal and won all the way. Upon the settlement of the lawsuit, after paying the lawyers’ fees, they donated a major portion of the compensation for Ping Chun’s life to the following organizations: The Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, the university where Ping Chun attended undergraduate and graduate school for 6 years, to provide a 5-year scholarship for outstanding students in electronic engineering; Donated to the University of Hawaii for a 5-year scholarship for Chinese students from the People's Republic of China on the Department of Public Health; Donation of $50,000 for the China Welfare Institute Soong Ching Ling Kindergarten for overseas procurement of electronic audio-visual equipment and large sports equipment; Through the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, they donated funds to build Datan elementary school in Feng Ning county, Hebei province. They visited this school with Ambassador Mr. and Mrs. Huang Hua in 1998. In recognition of Mr. Chun's concern and support for the healthy growth of Chinese children and adolescents, the China Welfare Institute awarded him the Soong Ching Ling Camphor Tree Award.
Mao Zedong’s calligraphy for Chee Kwom Chun in 1938
Mr. Chee Kwon Chun was born in Honolulu, the United States. His sister Chen Shuying married Dr. Sun Fo, son of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. It was Dr. Sun Fo who took Mr. Chun to China from Hawaii in 1934, to be Sun Fo's English secretary. In l937 when the Sino-Japanese war broke out, Dr. Sun Fo asked him to take his two sons T.P. Sun and T.K. Sun to study at University of California at Berkeley. At the same time, Chee Kwon Chun attended Graduate School at Berkeley. It was there he read the book "Red Star over China" by Edgar Snow. At that time, he met Mr. Sha Zhibei, Zhou Enlai’s classmate in Nankai High School. He expressed to Sha Zhibei his desire to return to China to participate in the anti-Japanese war. Sha Zhibei wrote to Zhou Enlai to convey Chee Kwon Chun's request. Zhou Enlai expressed support for overseas Chinese in their request to return to China. So, through this relationship, Chee Kwon Chun came to Yanan - the anti-Japanese shrine. He spent 9 months in Yanan. He met with top leaders including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Generals Zhu De and Wang Zhen. In December 1938, Chairman Mao had dinner with him in his cave, and after dinner he wrote a calligraphy for Mr. Chee Kwon Chun --"To unite all those who sincerely save the nation, China has a way out. This kind of patriots are not selfish, sacrifice themselves, and specifically struggle for the national liberation.” Chee Kwon Chun was most impressed by the spirit of the young people in Yanan. They were all so selfless and dedicated to work on one common cause – to fight the Japanese aggressors and save China. He asked the leaders to send him to the front line and fight the Japanese invaders. Mr. Zhou Enlai said, "There is no shortage of soldiers on the front line, we have plenty of them. We need a person with your background and connection to go back to Chongqing to tell the people around you what you saw in Yanan." He followed Zhou Enlai’s instruction and he started telling people at the KMT government how inspired he was with what he saw in Yanan. After a while, Dr. Sun Fo summoned him to his office and told him to stop talking about Yanan. "Chee Kwon, Chiang Kai-shek will suspect I sent you to Yanan." After that, Sun Fo arranged him to be the director of the Southeast China seven provincial office of Chinese Industrial Cooperative (INDUSCO). INDUSCO was a crucial industrial movement in support of the anti-Japanese war. They collected resources for the war and produce all the supplies people need by creating small cooperative industries in the provinces that are not yet occupied by Japanese invaders. From 1940 to 1946, Chee Kwon defied hardship under very difficult conditions to carry out the work. He thought it was one of the most rewarding and exciting times of his life, as he actively fought against Japanese invaders and provided jobs to young people.
Chee Kwon Chun returned to Hawaii in 1947 after the victory of the anti-Japanese war. Hearing the founding of New China, he was extremely excited and happy. In 1950, he resolutely returned to the motherland with his newly wed lady Mrs. Sau Chun Wong Chun, to participate in the socialist construction of the motherland. To give full play to their expertise, they were assigned to work in Foreign Language Publishing House to introduce the construction and development of China to the world. He lived in new China for 11 years. In 1961, he moved to Hong Kong with his family for banking and assuming vice president of Guangdong Provincial Bank and Overseas Chinese Commercial Bank. With Nixon's visit to China and the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, Chee Kwon Chun became a US–China trade advisor. Chee Kwon Chun represented a number of US multinational companies to invest in China, travelling between China and the United States, to promote Sino-US trade.
Photo of Chee Kwon Chun and his newly
wed lady Sau Chun Wong Chun in 1950
After the passing away of Soong Ching Ling, Honorary Chairman of People’s Republic of China in 1981, Mr. Chee Kwon Chun and Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s relatives launched the establishment of American Soong Ching Ling Foundation in San Diego, inheriting and developing the unfinished causes of Soong Ching Ling, commemorating the 20th century great woman. Five years later, in 1986, the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation was established, Mr. Chee Kwon Chun and Mrs. Sau Chun Wong Chun and their daughter Yen Chun became directors of the Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation.
Yan Chun with their parents visited and kissed the great-aunt Soong Ching Ling
Ms. Yen Chun, SSCLF’s overseas director inherits her parents’ wishes and plays a positive role in promoting cultural and artistic exchanges between China and the United States. She is also a director of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce in Hawaii and a director and executive vice president of Sun Yat-sen Foundation in Hawaii. She actively participated in the organization and reception of the Shanghai Little Companion Art Troupe to perform in Hawaii, and she organized and raised money for Hawaiian Halau Hula Olana Children's Dance Group to participate in the Shanghai International Children's Cultural and Art Festivals. She helped organize the China Welfare Institute preschool education managing personnel to go to the University of Hawaii, Punahou and Iolani Schools to investigate and study American preschool education theory, education mode and education management, and establish an academic exchange project. In recent years, China Welfare Institute founded Soong Ching Ling School. She also helped to introduce to Soong Ching Ling School American middle school education management personnel and teachers. Yen and her parents also helped bridging the relationship and promote friendship between USA and China. They helped Hawaii to establish sister State relationship with Guangdong Province, and Island of Oahu to form sister island relationship with Hainan Island.
August 2010, SSCLF’s chairman Lu Ping in Hawaii celebrating
Mr. Chee Kwon Chun's 100 birthday, the left is Yan Chun’s daughter Zhuo Yiling.
During the Forum in August 2016, Yan Chen and her mother
with Pearl Sun Lin and Rose Sun Tchang
Yen hosted many official delegations from the PRC visiting Hawaii, including President Jiang Zemin (and served as official host of Ceremony at the banquet given by Mayor of Honolulu), Foreign Minister Huang Hua, Chinese film crews and major media organizations covering major events in Hawaii.
Mr. Chen Yunlin, chairman of the Association for Relations
Across the Taiwan Strait, visited Punahou School
Last year 2016 was Dr. Sun Yat-sen 150th anniversary. Yen was instrumental in organizing a major Forum at the East West Center in Honolulu. The theme was “Sun Yat-sen: Supporters and Legacy”. The Forum was attended by over 160 delegates including Sun family members, elected officials from Hawaii, and organizations from around the world including China Soong Ching Ling Foundation. The grand-daughters of Dr. Sun, Pearl Sun Lin and Rose Sun Tchang and many descendants of supporters of Dr. Sun spoke at the event which was covered by major international media groups.
In November 2016, Yen Chun’s couple and their son on the lawn of
Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence in Shanghai
This year 2017, Yen donated her entire book collection on Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching Ling to the University of Hawaii Hamilton Library. She is also fundraising to set up a special room in honor of these two great leaders of China and the world, and provide research funding for individuals who will travel to Hawaii to do research on Sun Yat-sen and Soong Ching Ling. The room will be named: Sun Yat-sen & Soong Ching Ling Research Room. This would be the first time Soong Ching Ling’s name is recognized and honored in the State of Hawaii. Yen feels this is a great honor and good opportunity to promote Soong Ching Ling and educate the world about her greatness and dedication.