Monday, February 17, 2014

The Guardian: Six Things I Know: Tech Entrepreneur Ping Fu on Why Life is a Mountain Range

The Guardian, which had played a leading role in questioning Fu Ping's story, published the following profile of her on February 17, 2014, as part of its "Women in Leadership" series. Apparently their reporters do not even bother to fact-check against their own archives:

Six things I know: tech entrepreneur Ping Fu on why life is a mountain range
Born in China, exiled to the US and now a successful entrepreneur in a developing industry, Ping Fu's life is one of change and survival
Harriet Minter 
Tech entrepreneur Ping Fu works in an industry that embraces those who embrace change and Fu learned these skills younger than most. She was born in China on the eve of the Cultural Revolution, grew up with abuse and violence and was finally exiled from her country. She ended up in the US where she studied computer science and worked in software companies before starting Geomagic, a 3D software development company. She is the author of "Bend, Not Break: from Mao's China to the White House".
Here are six things life has taught her: 
I grew up during the Cultural Revolution, so I lived through that chaotic period during my formative years. It's a time of your life which is supposed to be carefree but it was complete chaos. I didn't get as good an education or the care that everybody else did, but I was also able to practice a lot of independence. 
I developed a very strong self-learning skill, and being deprived from real study gave me a real urge to want to learn. It wasn't like "you get good grades so go to school every day", instead I couldn't go to school and that brought the desire to learn. 
You need to say what you see, no matter the consequences 
After the Cultural Revolution I went to college. I studied chinese literature and in my senior year I did some research on policy, I was going to do it as thesis, and when I was researching this I discovered widespread infanticide in the countryside. I wrote what I saw, gave it to my teacher and suddenly my thesis was submitted to the communist party. I was in trouble. I was put in jail and that was when I knew I had to leave [China]. I applied to many countries and the US was the first to accept me. 
Adapt your skills 
When I came to the US my English was too poor to study literature so I had to choose a different field. I wanted something marketable, computer science is also writing, it's just writing code. So rather than writing essays, I was writing code for the future. I discovered there's a lot of connection between the two. Literature teaches us clarity, connection, compartments, it's very similar to writing software. I became a software designer and then a software programmer. 
It's not how much luck you have, it's what you do with it 
A lot of time I say I'm lucky and friends "say you make your luck". Jim Collins, a researcher on luck, says successful people don't have more luck, they have more return on their luck. 
For example, I said I was lucky to choose computer science but the return on my choice was entrepreneurship. So I chose a field where I could have a good job but then I started a company and that's what set me apart. I was lucky to come to the US, but then look what I've done since I've been here. 
Be prepared to change your mind 
When I started a business my daughter was three years old, at that time I was still conscious that I felt communist, I thought money was evil. I thought, "entrepreneurs love money and hate their job, I love my job and hate money therefore I would never start a business". Two years later I started a business. 
Entrepreneurship changed my perspective. When you're young you look for yourself, when you get a little older you think about your family, when you become an entrepreneur you care about people who aren't related to you. It gave me a leadership perspective which changed my view on life in a way I could never have imagined. 
Life isn't about the climb, it's about the journey 
In the US they talking about climbing but I believe life is journey on a mountain rage. It goes up and down, and at each peak the view is different. So if you feel stuck and want to go to a different peak you have to go down before you can go up. A lot of people don't want to down but with that kind of mentality you could miss a lot of opportunities. Don't worry if you have a temporary setback, when you find yourself going down the mountain then you can you look for new opportunities. 
Being emotional is fine, it's about how you deal with it 
Part of my positive attitude is certainly down to my childhood. I overcame a lot of obstacles but things always worked out. If you go through difficulty and sail through then you're not so fearful, you know it will be ok. 
My daughter didn't grow up in the way that I did so she sometimes feels that she doesn't have a right to complain. What's important is not what happens to you but your emotional response to the event. My daughter always has a right to feel but it's how she deals with it that brings maturity. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Southern Weekly: Packaged Suffering? Ping Fu Tells America her "Cultural Revolution" Story

The following report was originally published in Chinese by Southern Weekly (南方周末) on October 24, 2013. The original is in Chinese down below, following the English translation by Mollie Gossage at Watching America
Packaged Suffering? Ping Fu Tells America her “Cultural Revolution” Story
By Liu Jun, Liu Kuan, Zhou Youqiang, Kou Ling, Zhang Mei
Translated By Mollie Gossage
2013 October 24

Edited by Brent Landon

In her autobiography, Ping Fu describes a story of suffering interwoven with inspiration—she tells of being raped by Red Guards, witnessing her teacher drawn and quartered by four horses, and being deported for writing a thesis on infanticide—finally in America she became a well-known entrepreneur and member of Obama’s think tank. 
The development of Ping Fu’s commercial success and her “inspirational story of suffering” seem interrelated. The molding of her image as “an indomitable business leader” and the development of her narrative skills are closely related.  
“Reflecting on the Cultural Revolution is essential, but one mustn't take others’ suffering on themselves; that is deceiving to the good and honest American people,” said one of Ping Fu’s earliest opponents, Cindy Hao. [no source] 
Ping Fu acknowledges some of her memories’ inaccuracy, even attributing the reasons to “emotional memories,” “cultural differences,” and “errors of the co-author.” 
Even after going through over four months of intense questioning, Chinese-American Ping Fu still seems unwilling to give in. In late Sept. 2013, the Chinese edition of her autobiography, “Bend, Not Break,” was published in Taiwan.  
This book’s English version is the source of Ping Fu’s earlier controversy. In her book, this 55-year-old Chief Strategy Officer for a world-famous 3D printer manufacturer tells a tale of suffering interwoven with inspiration: during the “Cultural Revolution” she was raped by Red Guards; when attending university she was deported for writing a thesis on infanticide; once in America she started out washing dishes; finally she became a vanguard of the 3D printing industry and Obama’s “think tank.” 
“Amended parts are all very subtle; my life story was not modified.” In the preface, Ping Fu affirms that her own story is accurate, and believes that negative commentary from the outside world is slander. [unable to source quote] 
This story, which moves from suffering to glory, meanwhile has triggered a long and tedious dispute—insiders denounced her for telling lies, and Ping Fu’s alma mater Suzhou University issued three consecutive statements condemning this former alumna’s use of false stories to hurt teachers and classmates. In its most recent statement, Suzhou University said they will appeal in a court of law if Ping Fu does not apologize. 
Opponents in China launched an unceasing “cyber manhunt,” revealing new “evidence of fabrication.” They protested to the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services, requesting that they cancel Ping Fu’s citizenship, and are planning to publish books on Ping Fu’s unsavory background. But from the perspective of her supporters, Ping Fu is “the idol of all immigrants,” all of the “extreme and ruthless slander she is confronting” is yet another instance of "the denunciations that were so routine, and so awful, during the Cultural Revolution.” 
Fu Ping emigrated in 1984, and as she becomes active, a halo surrounds this business leader. Her “American legend” is strengthened by her molded Chinese narrative to a large extent—the trials and tribulations of an idealistic saint. But those in China who know the real situation believe Ping Fu’s autobiography violates honesty, loyalty, a sense of honor, as well as traditional Eastern values.  
“Bad Girl” of the Cultural Revolution 
If in the autumn of 1978 you happened to pass through Jiangsu Teacher’s College (now Suzhou University), you would find this sort of scene: a 20-year-old girl in the Chinese department named Ping Fu, walking around in a dress and high-heels. She seems a rarity among the blue and khaki-covered campus. 
That was the second year after university entrance examinations resumed. Dresses and high-heels were symbols of the avant-garde, but also status symbols. She was one of the few in her class to come from a large city like Nanjing. Her father was also a professor of Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  
“She was very aloof, she never really talked to me,” recalled Cha Erming, her college roommate in those days and an educationally-reformed youth returned to the city.  
In that period when city intellectuals were sent to do agricultural labor, Ping Fu instead enjoyed a pampered youth at her aunt’s Western-style house in Shanghai. This maternal aunt’s husband was a very great and important accountant of the Shanghai Bund. Her parents also loved her dearly. In 1972 she arrived at Guanghuamen High School for study, joined the Youth League, was class president, and would go to work in the fields on occasion. While others clasped Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” in their hands every day, she was allowed to read Western novels. 
At age eight the “Cultural Revolution” broke out. Her aunt’s home was impacted; her parents were also very quickly sent away to a labor camp in the outskirts of Nanjing. According to Ping Fu, this was probably the hardest time of her entire life. Her cousin Yu Zhifang recalls, Ping Fu was so young and still she had to look after her younger sister. Because she couldn't clean mold from the rice, it was always green when she cooked it.  
After entering college, Ping Fu was not only avant-garde in appearance; her thinking was also very bold. Once at a celebration she performed a skit, reading the lines “opening arms wide to embrace you,” and simultaneously performing the action. The audience all laughed together. But classmate Liu Buchun remembers how everyone discussed this for quite a while in private, feeling that she lacked a girl’s proper reservation. 
At that time when China had just begun to open, the Chinese people had opportunities for fresh contact with the outside world. But by a very distantly related uncle, Ping Fu had access to a huge number of Western movies. During college, she was most fanatical about those works brimming with rebellion, inspiration, and the tint of romanticism, such as “The Sound of Music,” ”Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” “Jane Eyre,” and “Zorro.”  
Western culture quickly seeped in to make Ping Fu conspicuously brilliant in her own culture. In 1978, at the midpoint of her first semester, Ping Fu and her classmates established an underground literature group, Red Maple, which focused chiefly on “trauma literature.” The love stories she wrote were often used by teachers as examples to be read aloud before the class. 
Red Maple's excitement upon breaking free from the binds of the Cultural Revolution quickly quieted; it remained in operation for one year and then disbanded. The overwhelming majority of people chose to continue laboring in their studies—in 1978 the college enrollment rate fell short of 7%; every little mistake would influence the future placements. 
For a time, Ping Fu considered compliance with this fate, often waking up early to recite English words, but she “very soon realized she could not see the future.” She rejected entrance into the Communist Party, though she had obtained many good applications for it; and later, because she mischievously slipped laxatives into a classmate’s rice noodles, all other students in the department began to exclude her completely.  
Probably from the beginning of her third year in college, Ping Fu began to skip class frequently—even failing to return to her dormitory at night—her most frequent reason was illness, but many times her head teacher, Ni Junqiang, saw that the signature on the medical leave form was Ping Fu’s own. And one time she said that she had been kidnapped. Ping Fu’s repeated lies brought Mr. Ni to the end of his patience, and he decided to report her to the school.  
In October 1981, the first semester of her senior year, Jiangsu Teacher’s College carried out an administrative demerit punishment against Ping Fu. This meant that she had to return to Nanjing, and that she might also be assigned to a teaching position in a remote village.  
Ping Fu’s mother tearfully sought out a good friend of her brother-in-law, a talented man with the alias Chen Bin. Mr. Chen’s suggestion was to go abroad, but first Ping Fu needed to drop out of school. “If you wait until placements are assigned, and then go abroad, they may say you are not obeying national orders—that’s treason,” advised Chen Bin. 
On Mar. 16, 1982, three months before graduation, Ping Fu applied for withdrawal from school, and the reason was a surprise to everyone: she claimed failure in love caused her a psychological setback. The hospital certificate was created by a friend of her good friend with the alias Qin Long. But unaware of the real circumstances, Ni Junqiang felt guilty for a long while afterwards; he felt that he had cut short a young person’s future prospects.  
"Is There no Boat to the Shore of Freedom?" 
In the spring of 1984, Ping Fu attended English classes at the University of New Mexico, obtaining a U.S. visa with the help of Chen Bin, and paying for the first year of tuition with money lent by an American friend of Mr. Chen’s.  
Just as China’s reform and opening was beginning, a tide of Chinese went abroad; “go to America” became the slogan for a generation. Just like those poor exchange students in those early years, Ping Fu had no choice but to do illegal work to maintain her livelihood. Ping Fu later recalled, some watched others’ children receiving only one U.S. dollar for eight hours of work. 
“Is there no boat to the shore of freedom?” Ping Fu once remembered the anguish of her initial time in America in this way.  
Living in a foreign country, Ping Fu’s self-esteem was both strong and flexible. She once had an argument with an American who slandered Chinese, but in order to quickly break through the language barrier, she lived with Americans in the first week. Very quickly, she transferred from the literature department to the more promising computer science department, afterwards transferring to the more famous University of California.  
“She is someone who really understands how to manage herself,” Chen Bin said. But this wasn't enough—she still needed to get a green card. In September 1986, Ping Fu and an American named Richard Lynn Ewald registered for marriage in Las Vegas. 
But rummaging through all of Ping Fu’s written recollections and interviews, this three-year period of marriage is never brought up. In 1989, Ping Fu divorced; at the same time she also obtained a U.S. green card. 
“I’m not willing to accept all the boredom, dullness, tastelessness and helplessness of life,” Ping Fu once told herself, “I don’t want to live to survive; I want to live out a glorious, rich existence.”  
In late 1980, she was accepted to the nationally third-ranked department of computer science at University of Illinois in Champaign. Here, she fell in love with a married man, a professor of the computer science department named Herbert Edelsbrunner. After experiencing many years of painful complications, they finally applied for marriage in 1991.  
Edelsbrunner is a well-known scholar in the field of geometry. Under his guidance, the completely unknown Ping Fu accomplished a rudimentary knowledge of 3D technology. Public records reveal that for all of Ping Fu’s particularly successful 3D software and academic papers, Edelsbrunner is the primary author. 
Ping Fu later resigned from Bell, finding a job at the University of Illinois’ National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). NCSA is the birthplace for the first-generation web browser Mosaic. 
In 1996, they founded the software development company Geomagic, but growth was exceptionally difficult. In the initial phases the two of them had no income, the company was completely dependent upon Edelsbrunner’s work salary, Ping Fu recalled to a Southern Weekend reporter. Later, upon the brink of bankruptcy, when the sum of Ping Fu’s family’s wealth had been put into the project, still Edelsbrunner did not say a word. 
"Resilient Business Leader" 
1993 was the first time she went home to visit her family. Her close friends and family believed that she was getting along well in America, and they all asked to borrow money from her to start companies. That time marked the height of people leaving former jobs to engage in riskier but more profitable business ventures. Ping Fu refused, causing the resentment of some friends and relatives. Their frustration frustrated Ping Fu greatly. 
“I am not the kind of person who likes to do business. After ten years, perhaps they will all become famous entrepreneurs, and I will still be at the salary level, then there probably wouldn't be anyone complaining about me.”  
“Drifting Bottle” is a book by Ping Fu, which was published domestically in 1996. Her cousin Zhifang Yu is the editor of this book. She recalls how when Hubei Shaer Publishing Society wanted to publish a set of inspirational stories about Chinese people abroad, she, as chief editor, thought of Ping Fu. Because the book was intended for children, the only requirement was that it used a lot of common, everyday language; it certainly didn't include anything on Ping Fu’s later government censorship. 
“Drifting Bottle”: these are words that can perhaps represent Ping Fu’s situation at that time. When writing this book in 1994 she was still struggling to get by, lost and bewildered Ping Fu says. Ping Fu barely kept up any contact with college classmates. Her only connection with Suzhou University was its appearance on her resume.  
Whether it was one of her early publications, or grant proposals after starting the company, Ping Fu’s CV has always included this: in March 1982, she received a Bachelor’s degree in literature from Suzhou University. In fact, according to enrollment status certificates later provided by Suzhou University, she did not graduate and did not receive any degree.  
As the principal sponsor of the NCSA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been the number-one supplier of research funds for Ping Fu. Many of Ping Fu’s requests for funding from the NSF obtained by Southern Weekend reporters show that her beautified portions are more numerous. She said that from 1982 to 1983 she was an instructor at China Southern Airlines, that in China she had published “Two-Minute Children’s Stories,” and that at the NCSA she orchestrated and helped start the Mosaic web browser. NSF finally decided to supply two years of research funding to Ping Fu, the first year giving her 190 thousand dollars. 
But knowing her personal recollections well, during the time that she claimed to be an “instructor,” she was actually at home reciting “900 English sentences” in preparation to go abroad, that children’s book was simply a work that Yu Zhifang requested her to translate, and the introduction on the official NCSA website says that Mosaic was invented by Edelsbrunner in 1993—there is not a single word on the contributions of Ping Fu. 
At this point Ping Fu’s packaging abilities stopped somewhere at the resume level, waiting until she learned how to package her personal narrative is a post-2005 matter. 
2005 was a year of transition for Ping Fu. That girl who at first said she “disliked doing business” achieved enormous success. In this year, Geomagic earned $30 million in revenue, and Ping Fu was described by American magazine “Inc.” as “Entrepreneur of the Year” and also appeared on its cover.  
Savvy, a North Carolina Chinese-American consulting company, said that they planned this media operation. They claimed to have “prepared [the Geomagic] team for key media interviews.” Savvy did not deny that they specifically instructed Ping Fu to tell her own story.  
In the 10,000-plus-word cover story article in Inc. magazine, Ping Fu is described as an adventurer emerging "from the bleakest totalitarianism.” This bleak experience includes being raped by Red Guards on her college campus, being unable to attend school between ages 7 and 18, seeing a teacher being drawn and quartered by four horses right before her own eyes, and being expelled by her university for writing a thesis on infanticide. 
Ping Fu describes this last experience in the greatest detail. The general idea is that she spent two years investigating the phenomenon of infanticide in China; in January 1981, the largest newspaper in Shanghai carried the results of her investigation, and the People’s Daily followed up with a report. This gave rise to international condemnation; the U.N. carried out sanctions against China. Ping Fu was jailed and soon after extradited from China.  
After the Inc. magazine report, the totally unknown Ping Fu instantly gained a great reputation. She began to accept frequent invitations for interviews from mainstream media groups. She also would often insert herself in the company of some very important people. In one interview, Ping Fu said, before she went abroad, the Chinese government initially rejected giving her a passport, and finally a leader in the central government helped her out. 
1.5-meter-tall Ping Fu speaks with calculated and unhurried steps, fashioning herself as a “resilient business leader.” She once told Forbes magazine that when she publicized the disgrace of the Red Guards, it helped her get over her stage fright, which in turn helped her learn to promote items to potential investors. One time, she raised 650 thousand dollars this way. 
“Spokesperson for the American Dream” 
As Ping Fu’s “anti-totalitarian technology upshot” reputation was shaking the U.S., there were still very few people in her ancestral land that had even heard of her. In 2008, Ping Fu and her college classmates had a little reunion in Suzhou. This was the first time she’d gotten together with classmates after a nearly 30-year absence from her alma mater. 
As her classmate Wang Jialun remembers, Ping Fu had really looked forward to getting others’ recognition. She said how she was famous in America. Wang Jialun didn't believe her, and when putting her name in the Baidu search engine back home, there were no results.  
Ping Fu’s relatives also did not recognize her success. Yu Zhifang remembers, in 2007, Ping Fu’s father was seriously ill and had to return home for treatment. While on his deathbed, “as soon as he mentioned Ping Fu he began to cry, saying that besides money, she had nothing else.”  
Her classmates didn't know it, but at that time Ping Fu was recently divorced. “Her husband frequently had affairs, and finally he dumped her.” Yu Zhifang believes that Ping Fu’s subsequent book was done to affirm herself in front of her ex-husband.  
Jiangsu Women’s Federation’s “Take It Easy” carried out the earliest domestic media report on Ping Fu. Han Liqing, who interviewed her, told Southern Weekend reporters that Ping Fu had found her through a friend in the Jiangsu Women’s Federation. “Her primary desire was to have others understand her.” Later, Ping Fu gave several lectures at Nanjing University, but she wasn't actually invited, just introduced through an old retired professor.  
Even though no one had heard of her in China, overseas her previous “tragic story” had conquered the American media and public. In addition, its commercial success gradually progressed. Ping Fu also felt she had become, in some sense, legendary. Just as she officially appeared in the view of the Chinese people, she had already won the title “Outstanding American by Choice.” Ping Fu, following Elaine Chao, head of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the eighth Chinese American to receive this title. 
What many Chinese people don’t know is that before this, Ping Fu had already stepped out of the business world and involved herself with politics. In January 2010, Ping Fu was invited to attend Obama’s State of the Union address in order to boost the morale of Americans deeply entrenched in the mires of unemployment. Ping Fu’s contribution was “helping the U.S. economy by adding jobs.”  
This July, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the establishment of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Ping Fu is one of the 26 advisers. Every year Ping Fu and Obama meet three or four times, Southern Weekend reports being told by Fu. 
In America, these kinds of advisers are too numerous to count. A search on the U.S. Department of Commerce official website for committees finds that the several meetings listed were not with Obama at the White House, but all were in the U.S. Department of Commerce headquarters, and the host was U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.  
This commonplace advisory position was rapidly inflated to become a role in “Obama’s think tank” once Ping Fu released “Bend, Not Break”; this was an important selling point promoted during its publication. 
While writing this book, out of worries about her English writing abilities, Ping Fu requested the help of famous U.S. biographer MeiMei Fox, who took on the role of being responsible for dictation. Fox recalls to Southern Weekend reporters the reason why she agreed is because she felt that “Ping Fu is a spokesperson for the American Dream.” 
In her book, Ping Fu supplements her sufferings with many new details. Her story sounds even more miserable than it did before. For example, at age eight she was snatched by Red Guards, she grew up in a children’s camp, her father was sent to the Russian border to cut trees for a decade, her teacher gave her a pregnancy test with her fingers, and she was the subject of political persecution and kidnapping and more. 
In America, she again encountered new “sufferings.” For instance, on her third day in the country she was kidnapped by a Vietnamese American. And when she was washing dishes for an American restaurant, she was harassed by Hollywood superstar Sylvester Stallone.  
In late December 2012, “Bend, Not Break” hit the market. It quickly occupied the major U.S. bestsellers lists, and reviewers flocked to Amazon’s official website with a tide of positive comments. “This woman is a symbol for freedom, courage, and the future,” one reader says. “Her story reveals the life of a true hero,” says another.  
This also ushered in the peak of Ping Fu’s career. In January 2013, when the world’s leading 3D printer manufacturing company 3D Systems decided to buy Geomagic, Ping Fu was appointed as Chief Strategic Officer in the new company. 
The Deepest Fear 
The waves of attacks questioning Ping Fu’s veracity were ignited following a post by a Chinese-American named “Lin.” In a long January 2013 post on the website, Lin used his status as a personal witness of the Cultural Revolution to question and refute Ping Fu’s claims that she was raped by Red Guards, unable to attend school, as well as others.  
This quickly attracted responses from Chinese netizens both overseas and domestic. Posts on Amazon continuously gathered evidence of Ping Fu’s various “lies”. Phone calls were also made to the publishing company requesting that “Bend, Not Break” be pulled from the shelves and that unwitting customers be compensated for damages. 
Cindy-Hao, a Seattle-based freelance journalist, is among Ping Fu’s earliest opponents. She shook out a trail of clues and gave it to Didi, a New York Times reporter stationed in Beijing. “Reflecting on the Cultural Revolution is essential, but one mustn't take others’ suffering as their own experience. That is deceiving to the good and honest American people.”  
In February, Ciny Hao and Didi finished a collaborative report on Ping Fu. Hao did a lot of fact-checking. For example, Ping Fu said that she had been kidnapped by a Vietnamese American in Albuquerque. But local police could not find any record of that event.  
The outside world is doubtful. It seems that some Americans are unable to change their impression of Ping Fu. “Muckraker” Cindy Hao was quickly dismissed from the New York Times, which instead published an article in support of Ping Fu. Still other American authors wrote articles claiming it was a smear campaign launched by Chinese nationalists. 
Ping Fu herself did not acknowledge any error in her thinking, either. In her February Huffington Post blog post entitled “Sad, But Not Broken,” she said that this smear campaign caused her to return emotionally to the mistreatment of her youth once again. 
In June 2013, during an interview with Southern Weekend reporters, Ping Fu reiterated, she does not want attention to focus on those details, but on her larger narrative. “Only 5% of the book is bad things about China; 95% of the book is all good things about China.”  
Following penetrating and escalating questioning, especially from former classmates, one by one coming forward and criticizing the falseness of her story, Ping Fu’s stance began to shift. She acknowledged that some of her memories were inaccurate, and attributed the reasons to “emotional memory,” “cultural differences,” and “errors of the co-author.”  
Ping Fu believes she did not personally see her teacher “drawn and quartered.” “During youth I often heard this kind of story, and this scene frequently appeared in my nightmares,” she explained to British publication The Guardian, “but perhaps it was something I only saw in a movie.”  
Additionally, she believes the part about the “finger pregnancy test” is co-author MeiMei Fox’s writing error. And the “rape by Red Guards” she also blamed on MeiMei Fox, who used this to attract readers’ attention. “Earning a Bachelor’s degree from Suzhou University” is actually the result of a Malaysian girl’s carelessness at her company ten years ago. She refused to disclose anything about the infanticide investigations, out of concerns for “protection of informants.”  
Finally, Ping Fu’s alma mater could no longer bear her stance on the treatment of these “lies.” In June Suzhou University issued two consecutive statements, publicizing several pieces of evidence proving that much of Ping Fu’s experiences were fabricated. Her classmates and teachers also decided to come forward, to restore the historical truth. 
Ping Fu says she feels extremely surprised. “I feel that my alma mater has been misled, this is hurtful to me; I would never say anything disrespectful about my alma mater,” Ping Fu told a Southern Weekend reporter.  
In its second statement, Suzhou University requests that the American Library Association cancel its invitation for Ping Fu’s speech, to prevent its poisoning young Americans, but the speech went on as scheduled.  
At noon on June 29, 2013, in Chicago, the annual meeting place for the American Library Association, listeners were thinly scattered. Ping Fu emerged from behind a screen, wearing a dress. The Cultural Revolution was still the principal content of her speech: “My father was sent to an agricultural labor camp. Under the management of the Red Guards…” 
Three months later, the Chinese edition of “Bend, Not Break” was published in Taiwan. In its preface, Ping Fu wrote: “The minute details of my life story have all become points of mockery…...this is my greatest fear, that I will suffer this humiliation again, seems like an inescapable prophecy.”

作者: 南方周末记者 刘俊 南方周末特约撰稿 刘宽 南方周末实习生 周有强 孔灵 张媚 

“她是一个很懂得规划自己的人。”陈斌说。但这样仍是不够的,她还需要获得一张绿卡。1986年9月,傅苹跟一个名叫Richard Lynn Ewald的美国人在拉斯维加斯注册结婚。 
写这本书时,出于对英文写作能力的担心,傅苹请来美国知名传记作家福克斯(MeiMei Fox)操刀,她负责口述。福克斯对南方周末记者回忆,之所以答应,是因为觉得“傅苹是美国梦的代言人”。 
傅苹的事业也因此迎来顶峰。2013年1月,全球领先的3D打印机制造商3D Systems公司决定收购杰魔公司,傅苹在新公司里被任命为首席战略官。 

Friday, December 27, 2013

The News-Gazette: Former UI Colleagues Show Support for Fu

The following article was published by The News-Gazette on 12/21/2013:

Former UI colleagues show support for FuSat, 12/21/2013 - 9:18pm | Julie Wurth 
The University of Illinois scientist walked into Paul Magelli's business consulting office and handed him a piece of paper with an algebraic equation. 
As he tells it, Magelli looked at the equation and said, "I know math, but I don't know this level math. What does it do?" 
The scientist, computer expert Ping Fu, told him, "It makes things perfect." 
The 3-D modeling technology Fu developed in the 1990s with her husband, renown mathematician and computer scientist Herbert Edelsbrunner, grew into a business called Geomagic that would eventually make Ping Fu an entrepreneurial rock star. 
Her fame has also brought her heartache, as critics have attacked her accounts of persecution in China as a child in her memoir, "Bend Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds." 
Those who knew her at the UI say they have no doubts about Fu's story. 
"I believe her. I believed her then. I believe she was genuine. In every other way I dealt with Ping, she had the highest integrity, both as a student, as a colleague, as a researcher and as a businesswoman," said art and design Professor Donna Cox, director of the Advanced Scientific Visualization Laboratory at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, where Fu worked. 
After moving to the United States from China, Fu earned a master's degree in computer science at the UI in 1990. She was hired as a visiting research programmer in April 1991 and promoted to technical program manager in August 1995 before leaving NCSA in 1999. 
Fu worked in a software development group at NCSA that produced the Mosaic software project, which led to Netscape and Internet Explorer. Among her collaborators was Netscape founder Mark Andreessen. 
In 1996, she and her husband co-founded Geomagic — originally known as Raindrop Geomagic — "because the raindrop is the most prefect of all shapes," she told Magelli. The company has become a leader in digital shape sampling and processing, which involves scanning objects with optical beams and making 3-D digital replications of them for manufacturing and testing purposes. 
Cox worked with Fu through their visualization work at NCSA. One of their projects was "Cosmic Voyage," an Imax film, using NCSA's virtual reality CAVE. Fu also took a computer animation course from Cox. 
"She came here because of the excitement of NCSA," Cox said. 
Ping shared many of the same stories outlined in her book about repression in China with her colleagues back in the 1990s, Cox said. She finds the attacks on Fu "ridiculous." 
"There was no reason for her to make all of this up. They are trying to just ruin her reputation," she said. "Who knows why. It could be political, given the situation in China. 
"To me, it just characterizes so many oppressed and victimized women who are not believed. They're disregarded. People try to undermine them." 
"I have only positive things to say about Ping. She was so focused and settled on how to solve all kinds of problems, whether they were technical or whether they were management," Cox said. "She seemed fair, honest, with the highest integrity." 
Magelli, who met Fu through a business consulting program at the UI College of Business, has become good friends with her and invited her back to campus several times. She recently delivered the annual Cozad Lecture at the College of Business, speaking about the potential for 3-D printing to reinvigorate American manufacturing. 
He describes her as "brilliant" and a "visionary," who resurrected her life after coming to the United States. Like Cox, Magelli said he has "no doubt" that she has told the truth. 
"Absolutely. Unquestionably," he said. 
He said UI students from China have told him that the Cultural Revolution is a "forbidden topic" in their families. Nor do they learn about it in school or read about it in books. 
"They learn about it when they come to America," he said. "Their parents and grandparents don't want to relive it. They don't want to revisit it. They want it to be forgotten history." 
During his time at the Kauffman Foundation, Magelli was introduced to the editor of Inc. magazine, who was looking for candidates for Entrepreneur of the Year. Magelli suggested Fu, who had by then moved her company to Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. She received that award in 2005, and others followed. 
Of late, they've discussed the criticism of her biography. She described it as a "nightmare."
"She said, 'The last thing I want to be is a liar,'" Magelli said. 
"She's a celebrity in the technology field these days," he said. "It's been very hard to have some of that diminished by some of these charges." 
The last time Cox saw Fu was when Fu gave the keynote address for the College of Engineering commencement last May. They had dinner together, and Fu talked about the controversy and how it's affected her life. 
"This has taken a bit of a toll on her — not being believed," she said. "I simply believe her and have no reason not to believe her."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Los Angeles Times: Criticism of Author Ping Fu Underscores Punch of Internet

The following report was published on December 2, 2013, by Los Angeles Times:

Criticism of author Ping Fu underscores punch of Internet
A fierce online campaign accuses the writer of fictionalizing an account of her childhood during China's Cultural Revolution.

By Lee Romney
December 2, 2013, 10:47 p.m. 
SAN FRANCISCO — Plug "Ping Fu" and "liar" into Google these days and the combo yields more than 6,300 hits. (See, also, "big fat liar," "lie-fabricating machine," etc.) 
But it wasn't always that way. 
A child of China's Cultural Revolution, Fu arrived in the U.S. three decades ago and went on to build a successful 3D-modeling technology company and earn a seat on the Obama administration's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 
Then she did something that shifted her reputation, quite possibly forever: She wrote a memoir. 
"Bend Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds" received glowing reviews when released last December. But soon the online critics amassed. 
Some were in China. Most were immigrants whose families had experienced the Cultural Revolution and found her accounts improbable. Strangers, they united with common purpose. 
And so began the dissection of Ping Fu — a campaign that has underscored the use of the Internet as an attack tool. 
Fu's critics call themselves "truth seekers" intent on exposing her "lies." Yet just as her memoir contains inaccuracies (to which she has admitted) so too does the vitriolic cyber-trail. 
"There has to be a motive," Fu, 55, said at home here this summer — an article on Internet bullying sitting on her table — before legal advisers suggested she stop commenting on the controversy. "But what is it?" 
The initial concept for the book was a collection of business tips, but Fu's publisher wanted the professional story mixed with her more personal one. 
Her memoir tells it this way: Fu was raised in Shanghai by an aunt and uncle. One day in 1966, as Mao Tse-tung was setting the Cultural Revolution in motion, Red Guards showed up to return the 8-year-old to Nanjing, the city of her birth. 
She and her younger sister, Hong, were housed in a dormitory at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where their father once taught. Their parents were considered to be "black elements" — her mother was an accountant and her father had ties to the National Party — and had been sent to the countryside. So Fu raised her sister alone. 
The girls were forced to denounce their lineage. At age 10, Fu was raped by a group of teens on the soccer field. 
She eventually earned a seat at Suzhou University and chose China's one-child policy as her thesis topic. When her research revealed a rural epidemic of female infanticide, she was brought to the authorities' attention, detained for three days and advised to leave the country. 
She arrived in the U.S. in 1984 on a student visa, with little money and limited English. After studying in New Mexico, California and Illinois, Fu went to work at Bell Laboratories and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications before co-founding Geomagic. 
Driving her success was a philosophy gleaned from her uncle about adaptability and compassion: "Bamboo is flexible," he told her, "bending with the wind but not breaking … It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back from even the most difficult times." 
Barely two months after the book's release, critics flocked to to demand that Fu declare nearly every aspect of her story a fiction. 
Helping shepherd the initial effort was Fang Zhouzi, whose campaigns as a "liar hunter" have earned his microblog more than 13 million followers. It mirrored what in China is called the "human flesh search engine." Individually they had little power, but collectively detractors were able to boost criticism of Fu to the upper reaches of the blogosphere. 
Their doubts touched on topics in the memoir large and small: 
Fu said Red Guards had driven her in a military van, but critics said chances that the teens would have had access to a vehicle were minuscule. Fu described seeing suffocated babies discarded in plastic bags. Skeptics noted such bags were rare then in rural China. 
And a sexual assault by teenagers was "very unlikely if not impossible," poster Z.C. wrote online, because "boys at that time might not know how to do sex." 
In June, Suzhou University officials joined the fray, saying they had no record of Fu's infanticide research or detention. 
Her critics obtained Fu's old resumes from public universities and research institutions in the U.S., culling them for inconsistencies — and found some: Early versions claim a bachelor of arts degree from Suzhou University (Fu said that her book makes clear she withdrew in her final semester); one lists a master's degree from Suzhou (Fu said it's likely a typo). 
What stirred the most outrage was the memoir's assertion that vaginal exams were conducted on all female Suzhou University students to ensure they were not pregnant. Fu conceded she was not aware of such exams occurring on campus, but said a law prohibiting pregnancy among women who already had one child had prompted pelvic checks elsewhere. 
The practice spurred many late-term abortions, she said, and she wanted to draw attention to it. 
Amid the criticism, the memoir's publisher, Portfolio, cited Fu's author's note, which said that many of the events occurred "more than forty years ago and I've tried as much as possible to verify the facts." 
"Sometimes, despite everyone's best efforts, minor mistakes appear in nonfiction books," Portfolio president Adrian Zackheim said in a statement. "Whenever they are brought to an author's attention they are corrected in future printings. Ping has already acknowledged several of these, and if any additional corrections are required, of course those will be made as well." 
A paperback edition with fixes came out last week. 

But for her critics, there is no turning back. 
Some have remained anonymous. "Take her down by all means!" wrote someone with the handle "Sick Liar." 
Others who have revealed their identities said in interviews that they were motivated by the belief that their adopted homeland relies on an honor system that Fu violated. 
Their convictions have at times led them astray. 
Seeking proof that Fu had worked as a UC San Diego teaching and research assistant, Fallbrook attorney Albert Wang was told there were "no records" responsive to his request, as personnel information is maintained for just five years. 
"Ping Fu fabricated her work experience," Wang triumphantly concluded. 
Soon after, Fu tracked down the professor she had worked for and shared their email exchange with The Times. "How could I forget," he wrote warmly of their time together. 
Amy Kristin Sanders, an attorney and associate professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism & Mass Communications, said the explosive criticism seems powered in part by the importance of "reputation and honesty" in Asian culture. 
Adding to the effect is the Internet's power to pull together otherwise-isolated individuals.
"These are people who may in their own geographic communities never express these kinds of views," Sanders said, "but when they see the momentum of hate that comes out on the Internet, it empowers them." 

Family members have corroborated Fu's basic story. 
The beloved "Uncle W." in Fu's memoir said he visited her at the Nanjing dorm and heard her account of rape and the taunts that followed. 
"During the Cultural Revolution, Ping's father and mother were punished for a long time," Wan Ao wrote in an email to The Times, "so Ping had an unfortunate life, too." 
Wan recalled that after Fu went missing during in her senior year at Suzhou University, she returned frightened, insisting on withdrawing from school. He helped her to leave China "so she would not be sent to exile or be persecuted." 
Fu's sister, Hong Bischoff, recalled their life in Nanjing, lining up in the cafeteria to say "how bad our parents were" and eat bread "green with mold." 
And after the assault, Bischoff said, her sister "was crying in the bed for many days. After that, she didn't like to go out. She carried it alone for so long." 
To Fu, the whole experience has had an odd sense of familiarity. 
"In the denunciation sessions, if you said something wrong they would hit you and tell you to say it all again," she said. "They are using [the Internet] as a bulletin board to shame me. In the Cultural Revolution, they put it on the wall."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Broken Accusation: Human Flesh Search

The Accusation:
When Fu Ping's book started to face a public backlash from the Chinese and Chinese-American community, some in the west media characterized the phenomenon as an operation of "human flesh search".

On February 4, 2013, Katie Baker wrote on The Daily Beast:
The Amazon attack bears elements of the type of Internet bullying—known by the ominous phrase “human flesh search”—that is increasingly common among Chinese bloggers. “Coordinated Netizen action against an individual is not at all unusual in China,” says Emily Parker, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and an expert on the Internet and democracy. (Parker cautions that she is unfamiliar with Ping’s case and therefore cannot speculate on who might be behind the attacks.)  
While the human flesh search phenomenon has helped expose injustice, it also has been trained on individuals to humiliate them publicly or to punish those who do not align with a strongly nationalist viewpoint. Indeed, recent hacking attacks on prominent American media outlets seem to have been aimed at publications deemed critical of China’s leaders. 
Joe Nocera was even more blunt in his New York Times piece in late June, 2013:
In other words, Fu is the classic immigrant success story. You’d think that would be a source of pride for Chinese immigrants. Instead, she has been subjected to what they call in China a “human flesh search” — an Internet vigilante campaign designed to bring shame on its target. 
The Debunking:
In the eyes of Katie Baker and Joe Nocera, the scarily named "human flesh search" must be some sort of evil reincarnation. However, people who are more familiar with China tend to have a different viewpoint. Indeed, Wikipedia's entry puts the term in a much neutral and even positive light:
Human flesh search engine (Chinese: 人肉搜索; pinyin: Rénròu Sōusuǒ) is a primarily Chinese internet phenomenon of massive researching using Internet media such as blogs and forums. It has generally been stigmatized as being for the purpose of identifying and exposing individuals to public humiliation, sometimes out of vigilantism, nationalist or patriotic sentiments, or to break the Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China.[1][2] More recent analyses, however, have shown that it is also used for a number of other reasons, including exposing government corruption, identifying hit and run drivers, and exposing scientific fraud, as well as for more "entertainment" related items such as identifying people seen in pictures. A categorization of hundreds of HFS episodes can be found in the 2010 IEEE Computer paper A Study of the Human Flesh Search Engine: Crowd-Powered Expansion of Online Knowledge.[3] 
The system is based on massive human collaboration. The name refers both to the use of knowledge contributed by human beings through social networking, as well as the fact that the searches are usually dedicated to finding the identity of a human being who has committed some sort of offense or social breach online.[4] People conducting such research are commonly referred to collectively as "Human Flesh Search Engines".
If this human flesh search engine were employed in Fu Ping's affair, it would have been a good use case of exposing fraud.

But sadly, Katie Baker and Joe Nocera were not even correct in invoking this term. As the wiki entry explained, the primary purpose of the "flesh search" is to identify anonymous individuals who had committed offense or breach. Fu Ping qualifies for the latter characteristics, but she is definitely not anonymous. There was never any need to launch a massive search for her identity.

It is of course perceivable that the "flesh search" could be employed to identify some of the key characters in Fu Ping's life, such as her cousins in Shanghai and the mysterious "Uncle W", who could shed a lot more light in validating her story. It did not happen. To this day, these people have stayed anonymous with their privacy intact, a fact that speaks volumes to the decency of those being accused by Baker, Nocera, and the like.

On the other hand, Katie Baker and Joe Nocera should be more familiar with another derogatory-sounding term: Muckraker, a fine and proud tradition of their chosen profession.

Quite substantial amount of investigative work have indeed been carried out and are continuing in verifying Fu Ping's story. So far, indisputable evidences have been recovered that she had falsified her resumes multiple times ever since the early 1990s, if not earlier. She has exaggerated her role in NCSA and the development of Mosaic browser. These are on tops of the multiple lies she had told in her book and interviews.

Fu Ping is not a simple private citizen. She is a close adviser to President Obama with influence to the national policy in technology and innovation. She was proclaimed by the USCIC as an exemplary citizen by choice while the circumstances of her getting a green card was questionable at best.

But the mainstream western media has stayed silent. They have ignored their duty and responsibility of due diligence as they happily and blindly played the role of cheerleader. That in itself may be understandable. But when a large group of volunteers who decided to take up the role of citizen journalists and rake up more and more muck under the covers of Fu Ping, they were labeled as "attackers" and "vigilantes" by the professionals like Baker and Nocera.

Now, that is injustice.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Broken Accusation: Chinese Hacker Attack

The Accusation:
From the beginning of the controversy, Fu Ping sought to link the criticism of her book with the story of "Chinese hacker attack" on western governments and media. During the question and answer session after a speech in March, 2013, Fu Ping said:
I certainly is on the attack by the Chinese at this point. The day after New York Time had a story broke on Chinese hacking on New York Time, I woke up with 2000 hate mail in my email. And I’m still on the attack by the Chinese. If you go on Amazon and look for Bend not Break Ping Fu, and you will see the full scale of the attack on me. They completely bombarded my book site, and if you saw the titles of five hundred comments, doesn't matter it is one-star or five-stars, they are all smear.
They are not just attack me, my family, my colleagues, but anyone who go voice something authentic get attacked. This is attack to democracy.
Katie Baker made the same linkage on The Daily Beast:
While the human flesh search phenomenon has helped expose injustice, it also has been trained on individuals to humiliate them publicly or to punish those who do not align with a strongly nationalist viewpoint. Indeed, recent hacking attacks on prominent American media outlets seem to have been aimed at publications deemed critical of China’s leaders. 
The Debunking:
The "Chinese hacker attack" story was a media sensation for a while, until the more recent disclosure of American government's own hacking activities severely dampened the enthusiasm. No matter what really happened at New York Times and other media sites, neither Fu Ping nor Katie Baker has produced any evidence that Chinese government sponsored hacker attack could be at work in the wave of public opinion against Fu Ping's book.

It is an attempt at guilt by association, pure and simple.

If Fu Ping truly believes that the 2000 hate mail she allegedly had received is an "attack to democracy," she should have turned them over to FBI for a thorough investigation already.

Broken Accusation: Internet Harrassment and Terrorism

The Accusation
A "smear campaign". This is Fu Ping's first response to the wide spread criticism on the factual accuracy of his memoir. In an interview with International Herald and Tribute in February, 2013, she told Didi Kirsten Tatlow that,
They smear my name, they try to get my daughter’s name on the Internet, they sent people to Shanghai to surround my family and to Nanjing to harass my neighbors.
A few weeks later, she raised the bar and claimed "this is Internet Terrorism."

The Debunking
None of the above accusations are true.

First of all, Fu Ping included her daughter's name in the "Acknowledgement" part of her book. It was also included in some of the earlier profiles on her success. For example, an article from her alma mater or an interview with WNYC.

The mystery of the Shanghai Villa where her family grew up has already been documented. Indeed, curious and diligent people have walked the streets in Shanghai tried to locate it but none have succeeded so far. It is therefore impossible to "surround" it.

Furthermore, members of Fu Ping's own family, including her mother, are all living abroad in USA. Her relatives in Shanghai have so far stayed outside of public controversy. Nobody has stepped up to validate her story. As a consequence, they are enjoying their privacy and could not have been "surrounded" by outsiders.

The only possibility is about her (former) neighbors in Nanjing. A couple of them did step up to provide information that refuted her story of her childhood. Unfortunately, most of these could not be substantiated either, for the lack of evidence and their choice of staying anonymous. However, there has been no complains about being harassed either.