Han Suyin; A fiery Chinese patriot who opened doors to her country
''You mustm come to China with me!'' she crows, throwing up both arms and literally leaping out of her chair with excitement. ''Then you would see China as it really is!''Skip to next paragraph
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To hear Han Suyin talk about her native land is to be transported to the dusty streets of Peking, to walk through Tian An Men Square and listen to an impromptu rally or demonstration.
''There are debates going on day and night,'' she continues. ''There are more than 3,000 magazines, and still there isn't enough paper to print what everybody has to say.''
While she sits down, smoothing her emerald brocade jacket and electric-blue silk pants with a single graceful movement, our photographer clicks away, trying to capture the energy and animation of this diminutive looking woman.
She begins again with quiet fervor. ''My heart is free and liberated with joy that there is so much innate stability in the Chinese people. Despite all the tremendous upheavals, the country has stood together, unified, and can even now indulge in shaking up its own bureaucracy.''
A fiery patriot who was instrumental in setting up some of the initial US contacts with mainland China in the early 1970s, Han Suyin now spends much of her time lecturing in China, Europe, the US, and Third World countries. Since giving up her medical practice to devote her time to writing, she has turned out almost 20 books, including a biography of Mao Tse-tung, an account of the guerrilla war in Malaya, a three-volume autobiography of her own family, and a number of novels set in China, India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Tibet.
For all her outspoken political views, Han Suyin is perhaps best known as the author of an unforgettable love story. Her autobiographical portrayal of the love affair between a Eurasian woman doctor and an English journalist working in Hong Kong in the late 1940s was the basis of the Hollywood movie ''Love Is A Many Splendored Thing,'' starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones.
Next month marks the publication of another already much heralded love story. ''Till Morning Comes'' (New York: Bantam Books) takes a panoramic look at China from the days of the Japanese invasion through the horrors of the Cultural Revolution to the Vietnam War, as seen through the eyes of a Chinese surgeon and his American wife.
''I wanted to write a love story because I do believe in love,'' she explains. ''I also believe that a love story is the best way to get people to absorb an awful lot of facts, and I wanted to show where our two nations -- China and America -- are today. There are going to be many people like Jen Young and Stephanie who are going to fall in love and get married, and what's going to happen to them and to their children?''
One reviewer has written of her previous work: ''[Han Suyin] makes no pretense of being a detached observer and succeeds . . . in making an eloquent plea for nationalism.''
Dr. Han puts it even more directly: ''The cause that I believe in is the cause of the Chinese people. I don't care if China goes red, white, blue, or yellow . . . your people are your people and your country is your country.
''Of course there are mistakes, and of course the wrong people are still going to jail, and of course there are still abuses, and of course there is still bureaucracy -- you can't do it all in a day. But I'm very hopeful because I feel that China has come out of medievalism at last.''
A number of Western scholars and journalists, including the New York Times' Fox Butterfield and Time magazine's Richard Bernstein, have recently documented the long-range damage to Chinese society of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Han Suyin might agree with some of their assessments -- but not all.