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.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

University of Illinois has no Record of Fu Ping's Director Position or Mosaic Involvement

In responding to an FOIA request, University of Illinois recently disclosed that they have no records that Fu Ping was ever a Director of Visualization at NCSA and that she initiated the Mosaic browser development. The former was included in the school's own award citation on Fu Ping. The latter was, of course, well known because of Fu Ping's numerous interviews on the subject.

Previously, the school has released employment records of Fu Ping at NCSA, which showed that she was only a programmer there when Mosaic was developed and a manager later.

From: University of Illinois FOIA Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 3:01 PM
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Cc: University of Illinois FOIA Subject: FOIA Response (13-357)
 August 7, 2013 [REDACTED] Re: FOIA 13-357  Dear Mr. xxxx: I am responding to your letter received in our office on July 31 under the Freedom of Information Act in which you request: "a copy of the following records (documentation in published, unpublished, machine-readable, and audiovisual forms, including correspondence such as printed letters as well as emails): 1.     Records, if any, that Ping Fu was a Director of Visualization of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications;2.     Records, if any, that Ping Fu initiated the NCSA Mosaic software project;3.     Records, if any, that Ping Fu managed the MCSA Mosaic software project;
4.     Records, if any, that Ping Fu’s work product led to Netscape; and5.     Records, if any, that Ping Fu’s work product led to Internet Explorer. The records, if any, responsive to this FOIA request should be located in Ping Fu’s research and project files at NCSA. These include research and project proposals, funding applications, financial and budget records, research data, reports, and correspondence."
 A search was conducted and no records pertaining to your request could be located.  You have a right, under the law, to seek a review of this response by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) in the Office of the Attorney General. The PAC may be reached by phone at 217-782-1396, by email to, or by postal mail at the Public Access Bureau, 500 S. 2nd Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706. You also have the right to seek judicial review under section 11 of this Act.  If you have questions for our office, please contact 217-333-6400. Sincerely,   Thomas P. HardyExecutive Director
and Chief Records Officer   cc:  filelegal counsel  

Document: University of Illinois' 2012 Award for Fu Ping

Fu Ping was a recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Department of Computer Science of University of Illinois in 2012. The biographic sketch on her included the following paragraph on their award web site:
Before starting Geomagic in 1997, Fu was the director of visualization at NCSA, the University of Illinois supercomputing center, where she supervised work on Mosaic, the world’s first practical web browser. Her team also developed new geometry algorithms that enabled the morphing special effects for the robot villain in the movie Terminator 2.
Upon a recent inquiry, however, the school indicated that they could not find any records pertaining Fu Ping being a director at NCSA or her involvement in the Mosaic project.

Previously, the school has released employment records of Fu Ping at NCSA, which showed that she was only a programmer there when Mosaic was developed and a manager later.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Document: UCSD Could not Confirm Fu Ping's TA Experience

Fu Ping's resume at University of Illinois claimed that she held Teaching Assistant positions from both University of New Mexico and University of California, San Diego when she studied there. This appears unlikely as she was an undergraduate student in those two schools.

UNM has already officially refuted her claim. UCSD, however, could not confirm or deny her claim as the school did not retain their employee files beyond 5 years.

Document: Fu Ping's Resume for her NSF Grant Applications (1999 version)

NSF has located more versions of Fu Ping's resume in her application file. Below is a version used around 1999, when she was the Chief Technical Officer of Raindrop Geomagic. For most part, this version is similar to that of 1997 with her work title and experience updated.

She also added an "Awards" section to her resume. Remarkably, however, this version of her resume lists her degree from Suzhou University as "MA" instead of "BA" as in the past. It might be a simple case of typo though.

Document: Fu Ping's Resume for her NSF Grant Application (1997 version)

NSF has located more versions of Fu Ping's resume in her application file. Besides the one submitted in early 1990s, below is a version used around 1997, when she was CEO & President of Raindrop Geomagic. This version no longer lists a Lecturer position as work experience or a translated children's book as publication, but still lists a BA from Suzhou University as her educational credential.

She also included a new "Senior Consultant" position at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for the academic year of 1995-1996.

For her work at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, she described it as "initiated and helped to design NCSA Mosaic internet browser software."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Document: UNM Denies that Fu Ping had been a TA in that School

When Fu Ping submitted her resume to University of Illinois in 1991, she included being "Teaching Assistant, University of New Mexico (1985 - 1986)" as part of her "Work Experience."

University of New Mexico has now officially refuted her claim:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Suzhou University's Open Letter to Fu Ping

Suzhou University has issued an open letter to Fu Ping today:
An Open Letter to Ms. Ping Fu by Soochow University 
July 21, 2013 
Ms. Ping Fu, 
We are writing you in response to the bizarre tales you told, in Bend, Not Break, of your undergraduate days with us in Soochow University (Suzhou University in pinyin). 
As firmly stated in our 1st and 2nd Statements, the many falsehoods you fashioned into the memoir, as well as a team of discrepancies in the many clarifications you offered and/or were asked to provide to media, have both unjustifiably defamed Soochow University and ruthlessly abused the personal feelings of your fellow students and teachers. Your persistent refusal to our request for a public apology for your misrepresenting Soochow University and your academic life there, in both the memoir and the press, manifests a “resilience” on you not to speak or seek truth. Worse still, you have presented yourself as a determined fighter against truth in talks with the press, particularly so when addressing the 2013 ALA Annual Conference. 
You have sullied the academic integrity of Soochow University by claiming to have taken BA and MA degrees from the institution. As is shown in our well-kept archives, you withdrew from us on March 16th, 1982, with neither diploma nor degree, not as a result of your facing any likelihood of your being “sent to remote China,” but that of your failing to finish required courses. Lies, however repeated, remain lies, no more and no less. 
Your so-called research on female infanticide in rural China was simply non-existent---- as evidence goes, never ever did you, while with Soochow University, conduct any research or publish any research finding on such a topic. Regrettably, by claiming that readers “made assumptions” on this matter, you all so conveniently dodged the questioning of whether or not you actually wrote it. 
Equally, your alleged experience of secret arrest as punishment for writing a “daring and controversial article” is not anywhere close to truth. Your “accounts” of persecution with, in particular, your depiction of how you got arrested and released, simply cannot pass facts’ scan for entry into truth. 
That, according to your “narrative,” Soochow University conducted intrusive physical checks on all female students’ periods, is a pure fabrication out of nothing. We have never heard of, let alone administering, these malpractices. This very story inflicts an insult not just upon yourself, but upon your fellow students and your alma mater, leaving the name of Soochow University being gravely defiled across the world. 
Whatever value you may have felt it free to assign to your memoir, its story of your learning life in Soochow University is proven unauthentic and short of validity, with a good part of it being outright falsehood. We agree with you that “democracy means everyone is entitled to freedom of expression;” but we would like to remind you that freedom of speech stands as a human right to uncover truth, not as a right to justify lies and liars. We agree with you that humanity has every need to reach out for forces that “unite” us, instead of for those that “divide” us; but we would like to remind you that “civilized contributions” to humanity requires, among others, every one to be a proponent of truth rather than a proponent of falsehood. 
We, Soochow University, have duly noticed your expressed wish to seek for a peaceful reconciliation with us. The words, however, have not been met with any substantive deeds. To actualize the wish, Ms Ping Fu, you are bound with an inalienable obligation to deliver a formal and open apology to Soochow University, your fellow students and teachers whom your memoir has caused to suffer, and exercise an immediate stop to any promotional activity for the memoir, either asking your publisher to recall the first edition of your memoir, or thoroughly correcting the falsehoods thereof to set to print, in the coming November, a truly authentic and valid story to readers and yourself, failure of which is sure to make us take legal actions.

傅苹女士,苏州大学已经注意到了你想与苏州大学达成和解的愿望, 但迟迟未见到有任何实质的行动。要使这一愿望得到实现,你必须向苏州大学、向因你的回忆录而受到伤害的同学和老师公开正式道歉,立即停止一切与你的回忆录相关的宣传活动,要求你的出版机构撤回第一版回忆录,或者在计划于今年11月出的新版中彻底改正原书中的不实之处,还读者以及你本人一个真实的故事。


Document: Fu Ping's Student Records in Suzhou University

Suzhou University has now released the images of several records in Fu Ping's student file at that school, originally displayed for reporters in their press conference on this subject.

The figure below is Fu Ping's registration card, filled out by herself. It shows that she had joined the Chinese Communist Youth League in April, 1973. She graduated from the Nanjing Guanghuamen High School in July, 1976 and served as the student head of that class.

The figure below shows that the Fu Ping was allowed to formally dropped out the school on March 16, 1982 due to the insistence of her mother and herself. The document also listed some other students, with their names redacted, who took absence from or dropped out of school due to various sicknesses during the same period:

The figure below shows the status of Fu Ping when she was accepted by the school. Notably that a check mark indicated that she was a member of the Chinese Communist Youth League. Her scores in the entrance exams are: Chinese 80, Math 54, Politics 70, History 70, and Geography 67.7

The figure below shows Fu Ping's course records at the end of the first year. The one marked in red shows that her English class score was "Excellence".

The figure below shows Fu Ping's course records at the end of the second year. The one marked in red shows that her English class score was 88 (out of 100).

 The figure below is a list of students in Fu Ping's class, where a note indicated her dropping out of school on March 16, 1982.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Document: Fu Ping's Position in NCSA

Upon a Freedom of Information Act request, University of Illinois has released the official Notice of Appointment documents regarding to Fu Ping's past employment at the National Center of Supercomputing Applications. The documents show that Fu Ping was initially hired as a Visiting Res Programmer in 1991. Her title changed to Res Programmer in 1994 and then to Technical Program Manager in 1996.

Therefore, during the 1991-1992 time frame when Mosaic browser was invented in NCSA, it was unlikely Fu Ping could have been in a leadership position in that historical event.

Document: Fu Ping's Resume at University of Illinois

Responding to an Freedom of Information Act request, University of Illinois has released a copy of resume Fu Ping submitted when she applied for a job at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications job in 1991.

This version of her resume predated the one that she submitted for her NSF grant application. The content is similar however. Besides missing some of the latter events, this version also claimed that she had a BA degree from Suzhou University, which has been proven to be false. She did not list her translated children's story book as publication in this one, but listed "Teaching Assistant" and "Research Assistant" at University of New Mexico and University of San Diego (should be UCSD instead, which she did attend) as past experiences.

While it is common for graduate students to work as TA and/or RA during their studies, Fu Ping was actually an undergraduate student in both UNM and UCSD. It would be highly unusual for her to have such work experiences in those schools.

UPDATE (7/30/2013): UNM has officially refuted Fu Ping's TA claim.
UPDATE (8/4/2012): UCSD could not confirm or deny Fu Ping's TA claim.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Document: Fu Ping's Resume for her NSF Grant Applications

Albert Wang has obtained, through the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of Fu Ping's resume included in her applications for National Science Foundation grants.

As we can see in this copy, Fu Ping has made claims that

  1. She had earned a BA of Chinese Literature from Suzhou University in 1982, which she has since admitted to be incorrect but has blamed others for the mistake.
  2. She served as a Lecturer at Nanjing Aeronautical Institute from 1982 to 1983, a period that she had claimed to be under house arrest while waiting to be deported following her research of female infanticide.
  3. She had a publication titled Two Minutes Stories, in China in 1988, when in fact that was a book of children's stories she translated from its English version.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 Fu's Memoir Tainted by 'False Memories'

The following commentary on the Fu Ping affair was published on on July 14, 2013:
Fu's memoir tainted by 'false memories'
By Leng Baoqing 
Chinese communities around the world have poured criticism on the memoir "Bend, not Break" by Ping Fu, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, with many claiming that it contains factual inaccuracies and distortions of the truth. 
Suzhou University, Fu's Alma Mater (then called the Jiangsu Teacher's College), recently posted an announcement on its official website which detailed specific instances in which it believes Fu distorted the truth in her book. An incident which came in for particular criticism was Fu's account of female students being examined for evidence of bleeding during their monthly menstrual cycle. In 2010, Fu, serving on the board of the White House's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, told US media outlet NPR that she witnessed the brutal execution of a teacher by Red Guards in which the teacher was pulled apart by four horses. Fu later admitted that this event might not have taken place and that her "emotional memory" might not be accurate. 
For many, however, Fu's explanations are simply excuses. There is no doubt that the memory can play tricks at times; however it seems inconceivable that anyone's memory could be so confused that they are unable to recall whether at a particular time they were in jail or graduating from university. 
Experts, however, say that such instances of false memory are quite common. Martin Conway, a professor of cognitive psychology at Leeds University, and Elizabeth Loftus, a distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, have both proved in their research that even memories which a person believes are true and accurate can be false. Memory is based on subjective cognition and presupposition and does not work like a tape recorder. In addition, people's memories are constantly changing, and they also tend to have an idealized picture of themselves in their memories. 
In Fu's case, this manifests in her attempts to present herself as the personification of the American Dream. Fu's difficult past and rise to prominence is proof enough of her success. To some extent, the urge to idealize or exaggerate memories is understandable. But Fu has gone too far in her memoir and this is what has upset her fellow Chinese-Americans. 
Suzhou University's criticisms and presentation of the facts on its website were fair, but Fu's book should not be taken too seriously, as its distortions are simply the author's latest attempt to adapt to mainstream U.S. society and pursue greater success. 
Surprisingly, an article in the New York Times on June 28 titled "Cultural Revolution Vigilantes" went to great lengths to defend Fu. The article, which was written by Joe Nocera, argued that "Ping Fu's book has mistakes in it. But it is hard to see how they justify the level of extreme, unrelenting vilification she has suffered." 
His point is debatable. In a pluralistic society, it is normal for public figures to face severe criticism. Fu has every right to revisit the Cultural Revolution, but she also has an obligation to tell the truth in her publications. 
For example, Fu says in her memoir that, when she was a college student, she was sent to jail for writing about female infanticide in Chinese villages (All the current evidence proves that her account was a complete fabrication). Abortion is the subject of intense public and political debate and discussion in the U.S. In 1973, Harry Blackmun, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S., authored the Court's opinion in Roe v. Wade, invalidating a Texas statute making it a felony to administer an abortion in most circumstances. The case caused an immediate uproar and made Blackmun a target for opponents of abortion who sent him hate mail and death threats as a result of the case. Mr. Nocera, what do you have to say about this behavior? 
The majority of Fu's critics are not opposed to a rethinking of the Cultural Revolution and welcome reasoned debate. However, such debate should be grounded in fact, as this is the only way to achieve mutual understanding. 
As a Chinese person who has studied abroad and fully understands the difficulties faced by overseas Chinese, I hope all of them, Fu included, can achieve their life dream and be successful. However, different from Mr. Nocera, I believe that those who revisit the past and offer a different perspective on events (including the Cultural Revolution), should have a sense of responsibility. In order to fully and successfully integrate into American society as an American citizen, Ping Fu must base her writing on verified facts instead of unreliable memories. 
The author is a current affairs commentator. 
This article was first published in Chinese and translated by Li Huiru. 
Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Document: Nanjing University's Certificate on Fu Ping

A book and several web sites have/had identified Fu Ping as having a Ph.D. in Chinese literature from Nanjing University. This is of course incorrect since Fu Ping had never attended the school. Fu Ping has attributed the error to "automated internet search."

Just to be certain, Jim at Amazon made an inquiry to Nanjing University earlier this year and received an official certificate from the school:

This is to certify that the Archives Office at Nanjing University has performed a search through our permanent files of undergraduate student records, graduate degree reviews, as well as equivalency to graduate studies records and found no record for any student named Fu Ping. 
Archives Office, Nanjing University (Seal) 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Chicken Soup for Entrepreneurs' Soul, Spoiled

Bend, Not Break is an autobiography written by Fu Ping with her coauthor Meimei Fox, published on December 31, 2012. The book has since caused substantial controversy and is the subject of this web site.

The book is published by Portfolio, "a dedicated business book imprint within Penguin Group." However, the "business" story in the book received little to no attention as its authors and publishers chose to promote the book by highlighting Fu Ping's life story instead, especially her self-claimed suffering while growing up during China's Cultural Revolution era.

The official book description boldly proclaimed: "It sounds too unbelievable for fiction, but this is the true story of a life in two worlds." They were correct for the first part. Her story was indeed too unbelievable, as either fiction or nonfiction, as this web site has documented and will be continuing to follow up.

On the other hand, the business part of the book has a few "case studies" of Fu Ping being the CEO of Geomagic. It reads like a collection of "Chicken Soup for Entrepreneur's Soul" tales, whereupon the author(s) tells a tidbit of her experience and then derives a quick but very generalized morale or "life lesson," such as "being good to other people." Because these stories are told in isolation without historical coherence or context, it is very difficult to follow in terms of how she actually performed her job.

There is almost no mention of any internal conflicts in running the company as a business, even during the brief period when Geomagic was in danger of survival. The board and other executives of the company are essentially invisible. When they did get mentioned, they were just happy campers going along with whatever Fu Ping wanted to do. The author, by the way, tried very hard to portray herself as "being nice" with her former CEO at the time, but in a very condescending manner while misrepresenting facts and even timeline. If there had been real struggles in being an entrepreneur, you don't learn them from this book, but only hear them through the author's occasional self-pity.

The few substantial business cases are not illuminating either. For example, the book included two tough negotiations Fu Ping had to enter on behalf of her company, one with Align Technology for a critical contract and one with two big companies with a lawsuit threat. In both case, she chose to capitulate before the negotiations even started and then justified her decisions on circumstances. The only M&A action described the book involving a Hungarian company also resulted in failure. Maybe it was the author's intention to teach by mistakes, but it does leave readers wondering.

In all, the book reads like two books being forcefully compressed and intermingled into one. It could not make up its mind whether to be an autobiography or a chicken soup instructional book. It ends up not doing a good job in either. The awkward use of the story-telling device of constantly shifting back and forth in time certainly doesn't help any here. It only exasperates the frustration that Fu Ping's life story keeping getting in the way of her business activities, or vice versa.

Some readers may indeed be inspired by her story as presented, just as many may find chicken soup books valuable guides to their lives. But in this case, they will have to first get over the fact that most of the stories in this book are falsified, made up, or questionable.

Document: Official Book Description for "Bend, Not Break"

The following is the official book description from the publisher of Bend, Not Break, also printed on the jacket flaps of the book:
“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”
—Ping Fu’s “Shanghai Papa”

Ping Fu knows what it’s like to be a child soldier, a factory worker, and a political prisoner. To be beaten and raped for the crime of being born into a well-educated family. To be deported with barely enough money for a plane ticket to a bewildering new land. To start all over, without family or friends, as a maid, waitress, and student.

Ping Fu also knows what it’s like to be a pioneering software programmer, an innovator, a CEO, and Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year. To be a friend and mentor to some of the best-known names in tech­nology. To build some of the coolest new products in the world. To give speeches that inspire huge crowds. To meet and advise the president of the United States.

It sounds too unbelievable for fiction, but this is the true story of a life in two worlds.

Born on the eve of China’s Cultural Revolution, Ping was separated from her family at the age of eight. She grew up fighting hunger and humiliation and shielding her younger sister from the teenagers in Mao’s Red Guard. At twenty-five, she found her way to the United States; her only resources were $80 in traveler’s checks and three phrases of English: thank you, hello, and help.

Yet Ping persevered, and the hard-won lessons of her childhood guided her to success in her new home­land. Aided by her well-honed survival instincts, a few good friends, and the kindness of strangers, she grew into someone she never thought she’d be—a strong, independent, entrepreneurial leader. A love of problem solving led her to computer science, and Ping became part of the team that created NCSA Mosaic, which became Netscape, the Web browser that forever changed how we access information. She then started a company, Geomagic, that has literally reshaped the world, from personalizing prosthetic limbs to repair­ing NASA spaceships.

Bend, Not Break depicts a journey from imprisonment to freedom, and from the dogmatic anticapitalism of Mao’s China to the high-stakes, take-no-prisoners world of technology start-ups in the United States. It is a tribute to one woman’s courage in the face of cruelty and a valuable lesson on the enduring power of resilience.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

About Fu Ping

This bio was written according to what Fu Ping had told us in her book and interviews. Follow the embedded links to learn more.

Fu Ping (傅苹), known as Ping Fu in the west, was born on May 30, 1958, the anniversary of Rape of Nanjing. Her birth father was a grandchild of a famous revolutionary and her family had close ties with Dr. Sun Yat-sen, father of the Republic of China.

When she was only 11 days old, her mother decided to send her to Shanghai to be raised by her mother's sister and her husband, whom Fu Ping referred to as Shanghai Mama and Shanghai Papa, respectively. Fu Ping lived a luxurious lifestyle in Shanghai, where her Shanghai Papa taught her the virtue of bamboo.

Her happy childhood was brutally interrupted in 1966 when Red Guards marched into her Shanghai villa and "deported" her back to Nanjing, where she arrived just in time to see her Nanjing parents being sent away. On that day, the 8-year-old Fu Ping lost both sets of her parents and was forced to take care of her 4-year-old sister, surviving in a "ghetto."

For the next 10 years of Cultural Revolution, Fu Ping had no formal schooling. She was forced to eat "bitter meal," attend "struggle sessions," and witness unspeakable atrocities. As if that wasn't enough, she was gang-raped when she was only 10. With no school, she was assigned to work in factories and farms as a child labor and even be a child solider in the military.

But nonetheless she was occasionally allowed to have some fun and at least took one field trip with Red Guards. She may also have forgot to tell us that she was able to join the Chinese Communist Youth League while in the middle school she did not attend.

After the Cultural Revolution ended, she studied like crazy and passed the very first college entrance exam in 1977. (Despite her diligence, however, she somehow missed the concept of "fraction" in her math studying.) Although she had wanted to be an astronaut, the government assigned her to study Chinese Literature at Suzhou University.

Suzhou University turned out to be both heaven and hell for her. While enjoying college life, she was forced to submit herself to the humiliating "period checking" with fingers. She joined an underground student organization called Red Maple Society and published a journal that caught the eyes of no other than Deng Xiaoping. For that, the school "arrested" and interrogated her and her classmates.

But Fu Ping was not done. She then launched a graduation thesis project to investigate the female infanticide phenomenon due to China's one-child policy. Her report found its way to a prominent newspaper (although she is not too sure which one) and caused a huge backlash including threatened UN sanctions against China. She was once again arrested, or rather, kidnapped on campus. Guess who came to her rescue this time? Yes, it was Deng Xiaoping who ordered her release.

Nevertheless, Fu Ping was being deported or expelled from China. But in order to leave, she still had to wait more than a year for a passport, which was eventually delivered as if in a spy operation. Even though her friends and family had worked hard to secure the acceptance by University of New Mexico for her, somehow she had no idea that was where she was going.

Coming to America was an adventure by itself. She found herself short of money at San Francisco airport and then kidnapped for 3 days upon landing at Albuquerque. But she survived, with only three English words at her disposal.

She worked hard at New Mexico despite being cheated as a babysitter and sexually harassed by Sylvester Stallone as a waitress. She made it through and became a graduate student at UNM. However, that school must have been so poor that, one year before graduation, Fu Ping suddenly decided to abandon her upcoming MS and become an undergraduate student at University of California at San Diego, starting all over again.

UCSD proved to be much nicer to Fu Ping. There, she had a marriage that she forgot to mention, which secured her immigration status. She also had a job that paid her more than handsomely. While happy at work, she didn't like what her boss was doing. Upon graduation, she apparently missed the first opportunity to get really rich.

It's not known when exactly she divorced her first husband Richard Lynn Ewald, but she did find her true love with Herbert Edelsbrunner and joined the National Center of Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois. There, she hired a lad named Marc Andreesen who, well, changed the world.

In 1996, a dozen years after she was deported, Fu Ping was able to publish the first version of her autobiography, Drifting Bottle, in China. In that book, she told a dramatically different version of her early life from those in Bend, Not Break.

In the late 1990s, Fu Ping and her then-husband Herbert Edelsbrunner co-founded Geomagic and she served as its CEO for many years. The remarkable success made her a celebrity in the tech and entrepreneur world.

On the last day of 2012, she published her autobiography, Bend, Not Break, co-written with Meimei Fox. The rest, as they say, is herstory.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fu Ping's Interview with a Chinese Newspaper in USA

On July 3, 2013, Fu Ping was interviewed by Qiaobao, a Chinese language newspaper published in the USA, in which she answered some questions raised by her alma mater Suzhou University. The interview is originally in Chinese.

Qiaobao: Suzhou University accused you for falsifying academic credentials. They displayed your student registration and files at the school and proved that you had dropped out in March, 1982 and did not earn any degree there. Have you ever publicly stated that you have a Bachelor degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Suzhou University? 
Fu Ping: I rarely mentioned Suzhou University because I didn't obtain any degree there. In my social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., I never included Suzhou University. In fact, in all places I have control, I never mention Suzhou University. 
But there are places that I have no control of. About 10 years ago, our company's marketing department has a girl from Malaysia. I told her that I did not graduate from Suzhou University. So she wrote on our page "post graduate degree." Because she thought "post graduate degree" could also mean "non degree" besides "masters graduate student." We made corrections right away and it was not on our company web site. But recently when our company changed web site, an program that was automatically fetching files made it visible again. I did not discover it in time. 
Right now there are many web sites, including Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, etc., all carried this incorrect information. I found out later that it was because their automated search feature. The real culprit of this academic credentials fraud is the automated search, not me. 
In fact, my business is in computers. I earned BS and MS in computer science in the US. I do not need a degree from Suzhou University for any of my work. It's not like a degree from Harvard, after all. 
Someone said that they obtained information from University of Illinois where I had worked to prove that I had claimed of possessing a degree from Suzhou University. But the information I do possess do not prove that. I have also inquired to University of Illinois. They told me that they have never told anyone that I had a degree from Suzhou University. I feel that those who are attacking me were misled. [Note: we do have evidence indicating otherwise.] 
Another place is a technological paper I wrote as the third author. The author's bio section of this paper stated that I earned a Bachelor of Chinese Language and Literature in 1983. As a matter of fact, I did not write that. I only published a technological paper. The author's bio was added by editors. 
Qiaobao: In your book, you said that in the fall of 1982, you "innocently walked across campus making preparations for graduation, someone sneaked up behind me, jammed a black canvas bag over my head ... escorted into a nearby car." Since you had already dropped out school that March, why were you walking on campus in the fall? 
Fu: This is a typo. If you read the whole passage, all the stories happened in the spring. The fall only occurred in this sentence. It was an error. 
In fact, I have corrected it as soon as I found this mistake. 
Qiaobao: You also mentioned in your memoir that you published a paper while you were in school, on the subject of female infanticide under the one-child policy. You were arrested and deported because of it. But Suzhou University said that all the graduation thesis in the Department of Chinese Literature were about literature or linguistics. They wouldn't be involved in sociology subjects such as infanticide. There were no teacher for this thesis of yours. How do you respond? 
Fu: Before graduation, I wanted to go to graduate school in journalism at Nanjing University. So I intended my thesis to be like a news report. In 1981, the one-child policy was going crazy in China and got my interest. With the permission from my adviser, I started interviewing people and then discovered the female infanticide problem in rural China. 
I heard a lot of stories from rural women and became their sounding board. In order to do this work, I had indeed spent a lot of time and missed a lot of classes. 
Then I wrote them down and showed my teacher. My teacher passed my article to his friend in Shanghai's Wenhui Daily. At that time I did not know where this paper reached, but heard later that it was handed higher and higher in the official hierarchy and reached the Party Central. 
This was not good news for the new leadership. Therefore I was arrested and locked up for 3 days. After the release, the police told me to leave Suzhou University and not tell anyone the reason. That's why my mother and I were insistent in dropping out of the school. 
Qiaobao: Who is the teacher who allowed you to write this article? 
Fu: It's not just one, but I cannot provide names. In fact, the person who approved my work no longer admits that. I don't think it's necessary to expose this. They are all my teachers and classmates. If they want to say I am lying, then let them say that. I know who I am and don't want to explain. 
Qiaobao: In your book you said that you experienced "finger checking" for pregnancy. This was strongly condemned by Suzhou University and your classmates. What happened there? 
Fu:  This is indeed my mistake. I wrote about "finger checking" to illustrate the difference between China's one-child policy and the population policy in the west. In 1981, getting pregnant in China could be illegal. Therefore there was checking with fingers. But the procedure was using one's own fingers to prove period, not allowing other people's fingers to enter. 
I told my coauthor Meimei Fox of this concept. But she did not write accurately. The illegal pregnancy checking was subjecting to those who have already given birth, not all females. It was written in the book as for all women, but not students of Suzhou University. 
But Chinese are not a precise language. It could be interpreted in different ways when viewed from different angles. It read like all female students in Suzhou University must submit to the checking. I discovered it later and corrected it on New York Times.
I feel sorry for this. I did not spot this mistake before the book went to press. Later Fang Zhouzi hyped on it and wrote it in a very dirty way. If this hurt the dignity of students in Suzhou University, I am willing to apologize. 
But the "finger checking" absolutely happened. It was not just me. Other articles have mentioned it too. I wrote it because I hope to raise the outside world's awareness of China's one-child policy. It was not meant to insult female students in Suzhou University. 
Qiaobao: You had participated in a literature organization called Red Maple Society. You said in the book that you were arrested and interrogated because an article published by the society. Suzhou University said that was a lie. What do you think? 
Fu: I had indeed not been taken into custody because of Red Maple Society. But in my book I used the word "arrest," which could mean "taking into custody" or "detain," it could also be understood as "stop." It was not as going into prison, but that they don't allow you to attend classes. They put several of you into a room, make you write confessions and expose each other. 
The Department of Chinese Literature had a student journal called Wu Gou. According to my memory, I was the editor-in-chief (主编) for Wu Gou, but not the ultimate decision maker (总编). Because I was the only girl in the society and the journal, they let me be the editor-in-chief, in charge of printing and logistics. Now some people say I wasn't the editor-in-chief. If they could tell me who was, I would like to correct that.
In January, 1979, Wu Gou published the article "The Confession of a Communist Party Member" by Liu Buchun. The article raised doubts on Communist Party and Communism. 
At that same time, Peking University, Tsinghua University and other 11 colleges co-founded the magazine This Generation. They reprinted an article from Wu Gou. Our journal sent a representative to Beijing to attend a meeting by This Generation. I don't remember who went, but it wasn't me. 
After arriving at Beijing, he didn't attend the meeting but went to the Great Hall of People to watch Deng Xiaoping receiving leaders of the Communist Youth League. There, Deng Xiaoping clearly stated that he wouldn't allow universities publish their underground journals. Afterwords, This Generation and Wu Gou all closed down. The school investigated and interrogated us. The Red Maple Society could not meet any more.

Document: University of Illinois Letter on Fu Ping's Credential

In early February, 2013, Daily Kos' xgz made an inquiry to University of Illinois where Fu Ping had earned an MS degree in computer science. The response showed that the school believes Fu Ping had previously earned a BA degree from Suzhou University.

The following email was forwarded to xgz by Keely K Ashman of UIUC:
-----Original Message-----
From: Kelley, Mary Beth A
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 1:48 PM
To: Ashman, Keely K
Subject: RE: Inquiry about Ms. Ping Fu's MS degree 
Hi Keely 
We had a student by that name graduate with an MS from UIUC May 1990 and her Advisor was Jane Liu.  She also obtained a BA in Computer Science & Economics from the University of CA, San Diego in 1988 and a BA in Literature from Shuzou University-China in 1982.  Her original application file indicated she attended the University of New Mexico from 1984 to 1986, but no degree was awarded.  It appears her wiki page is missing some information. 
Mary Beth

-----Original Message-----
From: Ashman, Keely K
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 1:25 PM
To: Kelley, Mary Beth A
Subject: FW: Inquiry about Ms. Ping Fu's MS degree 
Mary Beth, 
Hi! How are you? I need to come over for a visit sometime soon so we can catch up!
Weird question, who would be able to find out if the student below graduated in 1988 with CS degree? Thanks! 
Keely K Ashman
Recruiting Assistant
Engineering Career Services
3275 Digital Computer Lab
1304 W. Springfield Ave.
Urbana, Il 61801

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Christine: Understanding the "Unrelenting Vilification" of Ping Fu

The following article was posted by Christine on Shanghai Shiok on July 2, 2013:
Understanding the “unrelenting vilification” of Ping Fu
Yes, another Ping Fu post. Bear with me. 
Since I wrote the last one, South China Morning Post published a piece called ‘Heartbroken’ author Ping Fu willing to apologise for inaccuracies in memoir. To summarize it, her alma mater and even some former schoolmates are threatening to sue her for libel. Fu acknowledges and admits to some errors in her book (which, as the article points out, she has also done previously), and cites confusion and people remembering things differently as the culprit. 
The SCMP article doesn’t seem to have done much to calm the anti-Ping storm. “A fake apology,” say her detractors. For them, it’s not enough. What would be enough, perhaps, is a statement from Fu saying: “I made many things up. I’m sorry.” Until then, their quest continues, with a fervor that angers the pro-Ping camp and, I have to admit, even alarms those who are/were more on-the-fence about the issue, like myself. 
Whether Fu lied or not, I do not know and am not going to explore. I have read almost all the accusations against her — some making a lot of sense, others not so much — and many of the comments defending her — again, some making a lot of sense, others not so much. What interests me now is how many who are more pro-Ping have become that way because, to quote Joe Nocera’s New York Times column, “it is a little hard to understand why Ping Fu’s memoir, ‘Bend, Not Break,’ has aroused such fury in some quarters of the Chinese immigrant community.” Nocera also calls this fury “extreme, unrelenting vilification,” and tries to make sense of the anti-Ping zeal by calling the detractors “vigilantes” who want to squash discussion of the Cultural Revolution. 
I agree that the sheer force of the anti-Ping anger is hard for outsiders to understand. I’m trying to. I think I know the answer — and it has nothing to do with wanting to cover up the Cultural Revolution. 
First, let me state who I am: I am a third or fourth generation Malaysian of Chinese descent, depending on which grandparent you count from. My ancestors left China before 1949, and certainly before the Cultural Revolution. Though I’m fascinated by modern Chinese history, it’s not my family’s history, and I have no personal investment, really, in Ping Fu’s stories. 
But what if I did? What if… my great-grandpa or grandma had returned to China, and they, and my parents or aunts and uncles were beaten by Red Guards because of foreign connections, humiliated in public, their education disrupted, their lives in disarray? What if they survived all that, and scrimped and saved to send me to school in America, and suddenly I’m there and hearing about a woman who seemed to have suffered like my family had and is now rich and famous due to her hard work — wow, good for her, I want to be like her — but then I find out there are all sorts of inconsistencies in her story and that — the worst thing of all — is that she might have been a Red Guard, like the ones who beat my Ah Mah and Pa and Ma? She might have lied about being a ‘black’ when she was actually a ‘red,’ and now she’s rich and famous in America and people are going “poor her” when… wow, she might even have lied on her greed card application? WTF?! 
I might become an angry netizen too. 
My point here is, I think the anti-Ping fervor is about privilege. Frustration over privilege should be something we all understand. Racial privilege, class privilege, economic privilege — these are all hot topics. Privilege makes people angry. For the most part, I doubt many Chinese have a problem with privilege that is deserved. But throw in corruption and deception and that’s where things get heated. At the heart of the Ping Fu outcry is the hatred of privilege that is procured through ill means. 
The last time I ever read about such widespread anger among Chinese netizens was the Zhu Ling poisoning case. Zhu Ling was a very bright student with a promising future when she was mysteriously poisoned with thallium in 1995. Today, her body is disabled, her mind deformed. She is less than a shadow of her former self. The main suspect was questioned by the police but let go, and is now living in the US and, according to different sources, living a very good life indeed. There were allegations that the suspect was highly privileged, with political connections who helped her leave China, leaving an unsolved mystery — and a poor, ruined girl — behind. 
Chinese netizens jumped on this with a fury that threw me. They did to the suspect in the Zhu Ling case what they’re doing to Ping Fu now — they set up websites and forums, dug up very personal information, petitioned the White House to do something, anything. Supporters of the suspect said the same thing Fu’s supporters are saying now — this is a horrible personal attack that is crossing the line; this is the work of a mob. In Zhu Ling’s case though, there is no Cultural Revolution involved, no painful shared history for Chinese netizens to unite over or Westerners to point at. No, the root of the anger was privilege through ill means, and it sickened many Chinese to think about how, in an unjust society, privilege means getting away with anything, including murder. 
Ping Fu isn’t accused of murdering anyone. She is accused of living a privileged life in a period that was hell for most, then playing the victim in the West; of being privileged enough to publish a book, but producing one with so many contradictions while many voices go unheard. Some of the things the anti-Ping voices are saying are over-the-top (such as asking her to show her scar in order to prove that she was raped), but I think it’s perfectly reasonable for them to ask whether she was a Red Guard/Communist Youth League member, and what privileges were attached to that. She says she wasn’t. Her Chinese university says she was, and they have a record to prove it. While such “I-say-you-say” contradictions exist, the furor isn’t going away. 
I found this comment (posted to a Bloomberg column about Joe Nocera’s defense of Ping Fu) to be one of the calmer, more poignant voices that points to privilege as the reason for the anger:
I am one of those on Amazon who have been attempted to tell the world about the truthfulness of her book. However, at this point, I am willing to focus on one issue: her membership with the Communist Youth League. I am sorry for getting a little bit more personal. My family suffered a great deal during the Cultural Revolution. If Ping Fu became a member of that communist organization in 1973, that means she was from a politically privileged family during the Cultural Revolution. 
I am aware that the information about her membership of the Communist Youth League was from a communist university. That is why I am willing to wait for her to show some evidence that Suzhou U manufactured that piece of record. 
I am waiting!
And many are waiting too. For many Fu sympathizers, undeserved privilege — especially suspected undeserved privilege — will never, ever justify “unrelenting vilification.” I honestly don’t know if it does. I’m just trying to understand why it’s happening. 
(Just so you know, I’m planning on buying her book, knowingly paying money for a piece of work that many claim is false. I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading it, and will find the entrepreneurial side of Ms. Fu very impressive. I divide the books on my shelf into fiction and non-fiction, and I’ll be sliding Bend, Not Break right in the middle when I’m done.)