Link, (Eugene) Perry (Jr.) 1944-
LINK, (Eugene) Perry (Jr.) 1944-
PERSONAL: Born August 6, 1944, in Gaffney, SC; son of Eugene (a professor) and Beulah M. (a teacher; maiden name, Meyer) Link; married Yi Tong, April 5, 2003; children: Monica, Nathan. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1966, M.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1976.
CAREER: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, assistant professor/lecturer, 1973-76, assistant professor of East Asian studies, 1976-77, became professor; University of California, Los Angeles, assistant professor, 1977-80, associate professor of Oriental languages, c. 1980, organizer and chairman of interdisciplinary workshop on modern China, 1977-78. Instructor at Middlebury College, 1971, lecturer-in-charge, 1972, 1978, and 1979. Chair of Harvard University's East Asian Colloquium, 1970-71; co-chair of Columbia University's workshop on writers and publics in modern China, 1974-76; chair of program committee of Southern California China Colloquium, 1979. Visiting scholar at East Asian Institute, 1975-76; visiting associate research linguist at Center for Chinese Studies, 1981. Member of board of trustees of Princeton-in-Asia Foundation, 1976-78; member of advisory committee of Hong Kong's Universities Service Center, 1977—.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Michael C. Rockefeller memorial traveling fellowship from Harvard University, 1966-67; Fulbright fellowship, 1972-73; grant from American Council of Learned Societies, 1977; National Academy of Sciences fellowship for China, 1979-80; grant from American Council of Learned Societies and Social Science Research Council, 1980.
Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies: Popular Urban Fiction in Early Twentieth-Century Chinese Cities, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1981.
(Editor) Chinese Literature, 1979-80, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1982.
(Editor) Stubborn Weeds: Popular and Controversial Chinese Literature after the Cultural Revolution, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1983.
(Editor) Liu Binyan, People or Monsters?: And Other Stories and Reportage from China after Mao, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1983.
(Editor) Roses and Thorns: The Second Blooming of the Hundred Flowers in Chinese Fiction, 1979-80, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1984.
(Editor, with Richard P. Madsen and Paul G. Pickowicz) Unofficial China: Popular Culture and Thought in the People's Republic, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1989.
Evening Chats in Beijing: Probing China's Predicament, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1992.
The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2000.
(Editor, with Andrew J. Nathan) The Tiananmen Papers, compiled by Zhang Liang, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor, with Richard P. Madsen and Paul G. Pickowicz) Popular China: Unofficial Culture in a Globalizing Society, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2002.
The Indochina Story, Bantam, 1971. Merle Goldman, editor, Modern Chinese Literature in the May Fourth Era, Harvard University Press, 1977.
George Kao, editor, Two Writers and the Cultural Revolution, University of Washington Press, 1980.
K. Y. Hsu, editor, Literature on the People's Republic of China, Indiana University Press, 1980.
Joseph Lau and Leo Lee, editors, Modern Chinese Stories, Columbia University Press, 1981.
Chinese Primer: Character Text, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1994.
Chinese Primer: Volumes 1-3 (Pinyin), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1994.
Chinese Primer: Volumes 1-3 (GR), Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1994.
Oh, China! Elementary Reader of Modern Chinese for Advanced Beginners, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1997.
Nanking 1937: Memory and Healing, M. E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 2001.
Author of The College of Emporia, 1982. Contributor of articles, translations, and reviews to scholarly journals in the United States and abroad. Coeditor of Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 1971-72.
SIDELIGHTS: Perry Link is a scholar of China and its culture. His publications have added to the growing field of Sinology, which involves analyzing Chinese politics and culture in an effort to gain a better understanding of the historically inscrutable land.
Link was involved with the publication of the controversial book The Tiananmen Papers, which a Publishers Weekly writer called "one of the most significant works of scholarship on China in decades." The book purports to be a collection of transcripted documents that recount Chinese leaders' debate over how to handle the democratic uprisings in the spring of 1989 that culminated in the takeover of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The papers were smuggled out of the country by a person operating under the pseudonym Zhang Liang; both Link and coeditor Andrew Nathan have gone to great lengths to ensure Liang's safety by concealing his identity. Liang claims to have been a participant in the uprising as well as a member of the Communist party, who gained access to the papers years after the uprising was put down by the government. Nathan and Link worked with several translators to ensure the accuracy of the translated documents and they claim that the documents are real, although they cannot release proof of their veracity because it would compromise their sources.
The Tiananmen Papers tells the story of a power struggle between China's moderates and hardliners, with the hardliners eventually winning out. Borne out in the debate was the recognition that the uprisings were illegal, and the students should be dealt with, but also that more freedom was necessary in China if the country wished to compete in the emerging global economy. Ultimately, the leaders decided to enact martial law, and the uprisings, which began peacefully, ended in bloodshed and the death of over two hundred people. Implicit in Liang's actions, and the documents themselves, is that reform in China must come from within the Communist party; Link and coeditor Andrew Nathan argue that had China's decision been different, the country today might be a democracy.
The controversy over The Tiananmen Papers stems from the possibility that the documents transcribed in the book could have been forged, simply because China's notorious secrecy makes such a huge leak uncharacteristic. Even Link and Nathan themselves acknowledge a rich tradition of forged documents in China. As George Walden of the National Interest said, "with China, you never know," but that "if this is a forgery it is brilliantly done." The papers illustrate that initially, many members of the Politburo were willing to negotiate with the students and entertain their demands for a freer press, among other things. But the moderates were ultimately overruled by Prime Minister Li Peng, who called on elder members of the government to stand true to their belief in the ideology of China's Communist revolution. Because consensus is important to the Chinese, in subsequent debates, other leaders were not willing to express dissenting opinions, and the students' fate was sealed.
Despite Link and Nathan's claims of having authenticated the documents, some critics remained unconvinced. Edward Jay Epstein, writing in the Nation cautioned that "we do not know why [the documents] were transcribed or who transcribed them. We do not know who directed this process—or why—and who selected, or wrote, the 516 pages delivered for publication. All we know for sure is that some anonymous person from China delivered for publication in America a computer file that cannot be authenticated." Regardless, the papers "contain no startling revelations," according to Andrew Scobell in the journal Parameters.
Other critics disagreed. Walden said the papers "should help our China policy mature." Gerald F. Kreyche of USA Today Magazine called the papers "an entrée to the inscrutable minds of Politburo members" and concluded that "the expose will probably have repercussions on some of those who are governing China today." Concurring with this view, with the caveat of allowing for whether or not the papers are real, was Danny Schechter of the Economist, who said the book "may contain an impetus, perhaps a powerful one, for future change." More pragmatically, Jonathan Spence of the New York Times Book Review stated that "what Zhang Liang and his American editors seem to have pulled off is a no-lose situation: if this book succeeds in provoking the Chinese authorities to try to rebut its conclusions by bringing into the public domain a still wider range of sources, so much the better. And if the authorities don't attempt a rebuttal, it may be taken as a kind of acquiescence to the genuineness of the materials published here."
In The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System, Link examines Chinese literature from roughly the period of 1970 through 1980, in the waning days of the Cultural Revolution after the death of Chairman Mao. Link likens this period to a post-Stalin USSR, when writers were subtly rebelling from generations of being told what to write and how to write it. Works examined include Chen Rong's novella At Middle Age, Zhang Yang's The Second Handshake, as well as a look at popular fiction of detective stories, romance, and pornography. The debate over literature in China, Link writes, usually took place between the audience and top ranking members of the Communist Party, who frequently assessed whether or not a published work of fiction was "correct" or not. Timothy C. Wong, writing in World Literature Today, took issue with Link's definition of "uses of literature," but nevertheless said that "his book stands as a significant contribution to our understanding of Chinese literature."
In Evening Chats in Beijing: Probing China's Predicament, Link talks with leading Chinese intellectuals and reports that they are nearly unanimous in their desire to leave China permanently for the West. Furthermore, dissidents who have made it to the West usually do not wish to return to China, or even fight for political reforms from the safety of exile in the West. Research for the book was conducted in 1988 and 1989 while Link served as the director of the National Academy of Science Office on Scholarly Exchange in Beijing. Through his interviews with intellectuals from several generations, "Link displays a remarkable grasp of China's recent history," wrote Timothy Tung in the New Leader. Link discovers that most high-ranking Chinese officials have sent their children to the United States and that support for Marxism is almost nonexistent even within the country. Tung further complimented Link's explanation of the Chinese language, particularly in the subtle double meanings of many words. The book, Tung concluded, "shows Link to be exceptionally versed in the complexities of Chinese thought—no mean feat for a Western scholar."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, April, 1994, reviews of Evening Chats in Beijing, Unofficial China, Stubborn Weeds, and Roses and Thorns, p. 1249.
Economist, March 3, 2001, Danny Schechter, "China's Lost Decade: The Legacy of Tiananmen," p. 1.
Foreign Affairs, March-April, 2001, Lucian W. Pye, "Appealing the Tiananmen Verdict: New Documents from China's Highest Leaders," p. 148.
Nation, February 5, 2001, Edward Jay Epstein, review of The Tiananmen Papers, p. 6.
National Interest, summer, 2001, George Walden, "Communist Crowd Control," p. 121.
New Leader, September 21, 1992, Timothy Tung, review of Evening Chats in Beijing, p. 17.
New York Review of Books, August 2, 1992, review of Evening Chats in Beijing, p. 6; March 8, 2001, review of The Uses of Literature, p. 41.
New York Times Book Review, January 21, 2001, Jonathan Spence, "Inside the Forbidden City," p. 10.
Pacific Affairs, winter, 2000, Richard King, review of The Uses of Literature, p. 580.
Parameters, autumn, 2001, Andrew Scobell, review of The Tiananmen Papers, p. 165.
Publishers Weekly, June 1, 1992, review of Evening Chats in Beijing, p. 43; January 15, 2001, review of The Tiananmen Papers, p. 64.
Time International, January 15, 2001, Jen Wei Ting, "What Really Happened?," p. 14.
USA Today Magazine, May, 2001, Gerald F. Kreyche, review of The Tiananmen Papers, p. 79.
World Literature Today, winter, 2001, Timothy C. Wong, review of The Uses of Literature, p. 102.