After the studies in the regular Confucian schools Mr. Sung joined the government service. Under the Ching Regime he held successively the following positions: a court secretary at Heilungkiang province; director of the Foreign Affairs Bureau connected with the Harbin Railway; Taotai of Hailar, Brigadier General at Hurunpir, Heilungkiang; Deputy Commissioner of Civil Administration of Heilungkiang from March 1911; Commissioner from December 1911 and Governor of the province during the First Revolution.
In March 1912 the Peking government appointed General Sung the Tutu or Military Governor of Heilungkiang. In August 1913 he resigned on account of opposition from the Russians. In May 1913 he was appointed by Yuan Shih-kai as a member of the State Council.
Mr. Sung lived an inactive life until June 1920 when he was appointed Director General of the Chinese Eastern Railway. It was he who ordered that the Russians guilty of the Chinese law be bambooed in the regular ancient fashion thus making himself unpopular with the Russians in Harbin.
General Sung Hsiao-lien was given the Second Class Paokuang Chiaho in January 1921. He was relieved of the directorship in January 1922 and given the Second Class Tashoii Paokuang Chiaho in December 1922.