Wenchang, Hainan: A most successful father
Historically, Hainan island was a place of exile for criminals, political prisoners and disgraced officials. However, it also delivered China’s ‘most successful father’ in Charlie Soong. Charlie Soong had three daughters: Soong Ai-Ling was married to the richest man of China, H.H. Kung; Soong Mei-Ling was married to the President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-Shek; and last but not least, Soong Ching-Ling was married to the founding father of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-Sen.
Like Charlie Soong, many Hainanese emigrated to find a better future overseas. In 1927, an average 134 Hainanese people emigrated every single day. Today, about 2 million Chinese from Hainan live in more than 50 countries, the bulk of them in southeast Asia. Many of the overseas Hainanese returned to the island to introduce and commercially produce rubber, pepper, pineapples, cocoa, palm oil and lemon grass. Overseas Hainanese were also responsible for taking the island’s signature dish, Wenchang Chicken, to Singapore and Malaysia, turning it into what is now known as Hainan Chicken Rice.
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