A Painting for Public Welfare Promotion

2008-07-11 12:28:42   China Soong Ching Ling Foundation

"Fugitives" by Ding Cong.

Soong Ching Ling was the pioneer of public welfare in China. Attaching great importance to China' publicities, Soong exerted significant impact on the public through her penetrating insight and unique way of publicity work. During the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, she personally selected a painting for public welfare promotion, which remains a good example even today.

From Fugitives to Refugees

Japanese troops invaded the northeast China on September 18th, 1931 and this was the notorious "September 18th Incident," which threw China into a moment when the nation's existence was at stake. Soong Ching Ling was very anxious about the situation and held talks with friends to discuss how to resist the Japanese aggression. On Jan. 28, 1932, Japanese troops invaded Shanghai and the 19th Route Army bravely resisted the aggressors. Soong Ching Ling, in spite of Japanese bullets and bombs, toured the battlefield at Wusong, expressing her care and concern for the Chinese officers and soldiers. She also organized to donate cashes for workers on strike, set up the National Hospital for wounded soldiers, and made public speeches to inspire the Chinese people against Japanese aggression. "Lugouqiao (Marco Polo Bridge) Incident" broke out in July 1937, and then Japanese troops invaded the North China. On August 13, Japanese troops attacked Shanghai and thus Songhu Battle of Resistance against Japanese Aggression broke out. In the same month, Soong Ching Ling published her article China Is Unconquerable, in which she pointed out, facing the awakened Chinese people, "Japanese atrocity is nothing but a paper tiger." She devoted her time to appealing to the international community and the whole nation to rise up against the Japanese aggression. In fact, Soong Ching Ling was then a national banner in the campaign against Japanese aggression. On Nov. 12, Shanghai fell to Japanese troops, but Soong Ching Ling persisted in her work on the "isolated island"--the International Settlement. Urged by her friends for times, she secretly left Shanghai for Hong Kong by ship on Dec. 23, escorted by her New Zealand friend, Rewi Alley.

In June 1938, Soong Ching Ling founded the China Defence League (CDL) in Hong Kong, appealing to all peace-loving people and democracy supporters to help China in her fight against the Japanese aggression. In August of the same year, "The Chinese Industrial Cooperatives" supported by Soong Ching Ling was founded in Wuhan for the sake of coastal economic resurgence and the workers' employment. In Jan. 1939, "The International Committee of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives" was founded in Hong Kong, with Soong Ching Ling as Honorary President. After these organizations were founded, it was urgent to do effective publicity work in order to increase donations as soon as possible.

In April 1939, upon learning that a painting exhibition was being held in the Central Theatre of Hong Kong Central District by "China Cartoon Anti-Japanese Aggression Association Hong Kong Branch," Soong Ching Ling went to the exhibition in person.

In front of a painting named Fugitives, Soong Ching Ling stopped and gazed at the painting. It was about a peasant family who had become homeless and destitute because of the war. In the painting, there were four people in the wilderness: an old woman carrying something heavy in her hand, a young woman with a baby in her arms, and the master leading a donkey. Each of the four was looking in a different direction, puzzled and perplexed. Nothing was shown in the painting but these four people and the donkey. There was nobody else, no tree, and no house. In the war started by Japanese aggressors, the innocent Chinese were helpless and lost, not knowing where to flee.

Full of sympathy and compassion, Soong Ching Ling stood in front of this painting for some time, with a serious expression on her face. After a while, she said, "This painting can be used as a poster and China Defence League is in the very need of such a painting. I wonder whether we can buy it." Then China Defence League bought it and printed it into posters, which were distributed throughout the world.

After being printed by CDL, Fugitives was renamed into Refugees, as was suggested by Soong Ching Ling to better meet the need to promote relief and donation.

There was a special article Please Subscribe to Our Posters on No. 7 Newsletter of China Defence League published on Aug. 1, 1939. It said, "The Central Committee of China Defence League has decided to issue a series of colour lithographic posters so that the overseas organizations can better launch their activities to support China's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and donate for those victims of the war. These paintings have been drawn by the best Chinese artists. Two paintings have been printed by far, namely, The Final Victory and Refugees (Part of the latter is published on the first page of the present newsletter). " The caption for Refugees was as follows: "Japanese Aggressors make the family homeless while China Defence League is helping them with refuge."

On No. 10 Newsletter of China Defence League published on Nov. 15, 1939, another article was published, with the title Please Subscribe to the Following Publications by China Defence League. It was worthy of attention that Refugees was listed at No. 1 on the top.

Soong Ching Ling was deeply touched by this painting. Among her collections of the cherished photos, there was one in which she was standing in front of the framed painting--Refugees. This was the only painting that Soong Ching Ling liked most.

The images in Refugees had such a deep impression on Soong Ching Ling that this piece of work was not only a painting poster used by CDL but also a reason for Soong Ching Ling's promoting the industrial cooperative movement to help Chinese refugees. In an article entitled Human Disaster published on No. 21 Newsletter of CDL issued on Oct. 1, 1940, she pointed out, "Nothing is more shocked than the stories of the refugees though we keep hearing these kind of stories nowadays time and time again… In any war, refugees suffer even more than those who died. They are forced to leave their homes and lands passed on by generations, wondered and were simply thrown into a stranger land and even into another war. Therefore, the only way to comfort them is to stop the war and let them return homes, reconstruct and rebuild the neighbourhoodship, so that they would have their courage to live on with their goal. In comparison with other countries, China has more refugees, for the war in China has lasted for nearly 4 years. Like what happened in the Chinese history, many people have become homeless and destitute. …If there were any means to help the millions of homeless and starving Chinese refugees out of their difficulties, it is nothing but cooperatives. In fact, Chinese people had already taken initial steps in this regard of industrial cooperatives, therefore would you like to help Chinese people realize their self-reliance?" In between the lines, we can clearly see that Soong Ching Ling worried and sympathized for her people in those days.

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