Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

By Li Yu-Ning | Go to book overview

10
When I Learned How to Cook

Ho Hsiang-ning

THREE main themes of modern Chinese history were intertwined in Ho Hsiang-ning's ( 1878-1972) long life: nationalism, socialism, and feminism. Although she did not play a leading role in any of these revolutionary movements, she was a well-known figure in all.

Ho was born in Hong Kong, where her father had a prosperous tea business. Her forebears on her maternal grandmother's side had been merchants for the Taiping rebels, and in her childhood, having heard stories about the Taiping women not binding their feet and fighting in battle, she refused to permit her feet to be bound. Through a fortuitous set of circumstances, this youthful act of rebellion became the principal reason for her marriage to Liao Chung-k'ai ( 1877-1925). Liao's father, who had run a business in the United States, and who, like the Taiping leaders, was a Hakka, had stipulated on his deathbed that his son should marry a Chinese woman who had natural feet, because this was the Hakka custom and because foreigners looked down on the custom of footbinding. Ho was one of the few young Chinese women known to the Liao family who met this condition, and, after the customary arrangements were made, she and Liao were married in Canton in 1897.

In 1903 when Ho and Liao were students in Japan, they met Sun Yat-sen, and two years later both became founding members of Sun's T'ung Meng Hui (Revolutionary Alliance). Liao soon became one of Sun's closest aides; Ho's early

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