San Mao is born in Chongqing, Sichuan Province on March 26th. Her father’s family came from Dinghai in Zhejiang Province. She is the second of four siblings with one older sister and two younger brothers.
In an era of war and upheaval, San Mao was given the hope-filled birth name of Mao-ping (Peace Conferred), which combined the familial character Mao and the character Ping, meaning peace. The difficulties she had writing the intricate first character, however, encouraged San Mao to drop it from her name soon after starting school. Ping’s father subsequently followed her lead and struck the familial Mao from her brother’s names as well.