Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Broken Fact: Fu Ping's Family Tie with Dr. Sun Yat-sen

As an autobiography, Bend, Not Break is remarkably sketchy on Fu Ping's family background. There are no names to be found, either for her two sets of parents or her siblings and relatives, except for her younger sister Fu Hong. But nevertheless, the only significant mention of her ancestry was found to contain a lie.

The Original Story
Near the end of the book, almost in casual passing, Fu Ping stated on Page 261:
As for Nanjing Father, he had been born into a political family. My great-grandfather had been killed during the uprising led by Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China. Dr. Sun had raised my grandfather and grand-uncle as his own sons. 
She goes on to explain that her grandfather and his family fled to Taiwan around 1949 but her father managed to run away and stayed in mainland.

The Changed Story
Tania Branigan and Ed Pilkington of The Guardian were the first to notice this little passage and consulted an expert on Sun Yat-sen. They reported:
One of her most striking claims is that Sun Yat-sen, revered as the father of modern China, "raised my grandfather and granduncle as his own sons" – akin to a Briton being reared by Winston Churchill. Prof John Wong of the University of Sydney, an expert on Sun's life, said he had no knowledge of such wards.  
Fu told the Guardian: "That was what I was told by my family before I left China. I believe this is true. My mother says it's in history books." She then added that Sun was attentive towards them, rather than actually adopting them. 
So Fu Ping quickly changed her story from "Dr Sun raised my grandfather and grand-uncle as his own sons" to "Sun was attentive towards them" while citing her mother as the source.

The Debunking
Although Fu Ping did not mention any names in her book or to The Guardian, she appears to have disclosed them in comments on John Kennedy's blog. If the comment is to be believed, her great grandfather is Fu Cixian (傅慈祥) who indeed died in an uprising in 1900. It is also true that Fu Cixian had two sons, Fu Guangpei (傅光培) and Fu Guangzhi (傅光植). Fu Ping claimed that Fu Guangzhi is her grandfather.

Fang Zhouzi has discovered an old article written by Fu Guangpei in memory of Fu Cixian, in which Fu Guangpei remembers when he met Sun Yat-sen for the first time in 1912, 11 years after the death of Fu Cixian. Sun did not know him but asked for his age and was generally nice to him as an elder. Fu Guangzhi was not mentioned in that article. It is likely that Fu Guangzhi, Fu Ping's grandfather, had never met Sun Yet-sen in person:
一九一二年四月,孙中山先生交卸临时大总统职后,莅临首义之区视察,那时我才十六岁。先父同学刘道仁引我去见孙先生,我问刘怎样称呼? 刘叫我称大总统。我向孙先生鞠躬称大总统。刘向孙先生介绍,这是傅慈祥的儿子。孙先生抚摸着我的头亲切地说: "不要叫我什么总统,叫孙伯伯好了。孙先生问了我的年齡后,嘱我好好读书,继承父志。
Since this is about all Fu Guangpei had to say on his relation with Sun Yet-sen, it is impossible to conclude that the latter had been "attentive towards" the brothers at all, not to mention raising them as his own sons.

Meanwhile, Fu Cixian's widow did receive some financial help, but it was from his former classmate, not Sun Yet-sen:
到癸卯(一九〇三年)那年,我父同学盟友刘道仁到潜江县来找我们,说我们是学生家属已经大赦了。其时我的曾祖母和我的哥哥、姐姐都在逃难中死了,我的母亲带着我和弟弟光植,什么也没有… 刘道仁和吴禄贞给我们母子凑了五百块钱,才得以生活下去。

By the way, according to other documents discovered by Cindy Hao, Fu Guangzhi had two sons by the names of Fu Lin (傅林) and Fu Li (傅里), respectively. On the other hand, the name of Fu Ping's father is Fu Daoli (傅道里). It's not clear whether Fu Daoli was a variation of the name Fu Li.

Fu Daoli was born in 1926 and passed away in February, 2007. Fu Ping's mother lives with Fu Ping to this day. Maybe Fu Ping could ask her to clarify a little more on Sun Yet-sen's attentiveness to her grandfather?


  1. 傅道里, 副教授, 自动控制, 南京航空大学

  2. 傅道里副教授的硕士研究生耿征

  3. Fu Daoli’s older brother Fu Daolin (a.k.a. George Taolin Fu 傅道林, 1922-1996)