Donkey Baby: From Beijing to Berkeley and Beyond

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Carried by a donkey during the People’s Liberation Army’s triumphant march to Beijing in 1948-49, a newborn at the birth of New China.

Spent her formative years in an idyllic showcase boarding kindergarten, sometimes sitting on the lap of frequent visitor Ho Chi Minh.

Daughter of a cabinet minister and member of the communist elite, she saw up-close the power struggles as the turbulent years unfolded: purges, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and reform attempts.

Marched with Che Guevara through Tiananmen Square while in middle school.

Faced a crowd of thousands calling her names during the Cultural Revolution. She was forced to watch her mother being tortured by Red Guards.

Treated ailing villagers as a barefoot doctor in a commune.

Swam across the Yangtze with a rifle on her back when she was a soldier in the People’s Liberation Army.

Defied the commissars by folk-dancing in England when she was a government exchange student and under tight control.

Trekked the roof of the world in Tibet and Nepal as a tour guide, and savored a high-altitude romance with her mountaineering French lover.

Interpreted for Chinese delegations in UN and private meetings with George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Ferdinand Marcos, and Pope John Paul II.

Entered UC Berkeley and earned a master’s and a Ph.D. in comparative legal studies.

Saw her dreams for China dashed as students in Tiananmen Square fell under gunfire in June 1989. She refused to back down when the Chinese consulate confiscated her passport for her pro-democracy activities, and stood up to a false accusation that she was a double agent.

Survived a vicious frame-up and million-dollar lawsuit. She seized opportunity from adversity and founded Human Harmony ADR, the Bay Area’s first Chinese-English bilingual mediation service.

Endured abortion, miscarriage, and acquaintance rape. She raised two good sons as a single mother.

Her memoir intertwines intimate personal experience with major events in modern China. Unflagging in her idealism, she never stopped searching for something new to believe in after Mao. Politically active, spiritually grounded, and enjoying soul-satisfying relationships, Sonia Song now lives in Marin County, California and continues to pursue her dream of being a bridge between East and West, China and America. She offers this memoir to her hometown at the time of the Olympics in Beijing.

Donkey Baby is her story.


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