Gilley trades career in China for study at Princeton

March 21, 2003 2:34 p.m.

Prior to enrolling as a doctoral student in politics this past fall, Bruce Gilley spent 10 years as a journalist in China -- years he jokingly refers to as "an extended period of field work financed by Dow Jones."

Until last year, Gilley was a contributing editor for The Far East Economic Review, a Dow Jones-owned magazine. But his "field work" also included writing four books on Chinese politics and experiencing events that ignited an intellectual curiosity he's now pursuing at Princeton.

Perry Link, professor of East Asian studies , said having Gilley in Princeton's China-studies community is more like having another colleague than a graduate student. "His insights into Chinese politics are on a par with our country's leading specialists in that field," he said, "and he has already published more than some tenured professors."

This past fall, "China's New Rulers: The Secret Files," a book Gilley co-wrote with Andrew Nathan of Columbia University, was published by the New York Review of Books. His latest book, "China's Democratic Future," is due out this fall from Columbia University Press.

Gilley said this forthcoming book will be a "swan song" to his exclusive focus on China.

"It's a foolhardy attempt to predict the future democratic transition and emergence in China, which I actually think is not that far off," he said. His conclusion is based on the transition to democracy in other Asian countries that have had challenges similar to China's, coupled with China's current rapid liberalization. Signs of this liberalization are in the country's recent entry into the World Trade Organization and its winning of the bid for the 2008 Olympics, Gilley said.

One of the first acts of Gilley's life at Princeton was to initiate the China Seminar Series , a forum for the debate of major issues relating to China and its transformation from a closed, totalitarian state into an open, democratic one. Speakers have included many top-level scholars, activists and business and government leaders.

The full story is available in the Weekly Bulletin.

Contact: Evelyn Tu (609) 258-3601