Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fu Ping's Speech at the Downtown Speaker Series

On March 1, 2013, Fu Ping gave a speech at the Downtown Speaker Series at Las Vegas. In the speech, she made a couple of subtle changes to her story. For example, she now says that she tool the Pan Am flight to US instead of United and it was not a direct flight. Instead of baby girls being killed with plastic bags, it is now pillow cases. She didn't mention the more outlandish claims surrounding her infanticide research (not even mention newspaper any more) or kidnapping.

More significantly, she used the opportunity of answering a question from the audience at the end to once again claim the "attack" she received on Amazon is a smear campaign originated from China, elevating its status to an "attack to democracy."

The speech can be viewed in its entirety here. Below is a partial transcript. Thanks to Jean and Z. Wang for helping out the transcript work.

I'm going to break this talk into three components. The first one I'll talk a little bit about
my life, which most of them are in the book. Then, I'll talk a little bit about my
entrepreneurial journey. And the third part will be what will be the future for 3D printing, sensors, and the digital world.  
So let me take you back almost 40 years, to 1966. At the dawn of Cultural Revolution, I was 8  years old. I was living with a loving family. My Shanghai papa and mama had 5 children and I was the youngest of the 6, the youngest one. i didn't know when I was little that they were not my biological parents. They were the only parents I knew. And they were incredibly loving and it's a normal family. 
When the Cultural Revolution started, I was taken away from them. That day when Red Guards came to my family to taken me away, to send me to Nanjing, which is a
city about 300 miles north of Shanghai to stay with my biological parents. That was when I was told that they were not my parents. I went to Nanjing in a very crowded train on myself and arrived only a little too late. My biological parents were put on a truck being sent away to exile also. And I was then placed in a dormitory room in a college where my dad used to be professor. It was there I found my little sister. She was 4 years old. And then for the next 10 years, I lived in a dormitory room, and taking care of my younger sister. My father was away for 11 years. I almost never seen him. My mother came back when i was 13. Life was very confusing at that time. One day I lost the parents who raised me, the parents who born me, and I became the surrogate mother to my sister. 
The first two years of the Cultural Revolution, the entire country turned upside down. Family, educated family been sent away, households are confiscated. I was out there to witness much of the atrocity scene, watching teacher being killed. Been sent to struggle sessions which I would be put on stage denouncing myself. Screaming very loud that I was nobody. That I wasn't worth the dirt beneath their feet. That was the very beginning of my education. I was supposed to be in the 1st grade. The schools were closed. I didn't have any academic education. 
But rather Chairman Mao, who was the head of communist party said that we need to study from farmers, workers, and soldiers. So I was working in the factory, many years, and also worked in the country side, planting rice, and doing some farming. Then when I was a little older, I also went to military camp to be trained on long march, shooting. So in the essence, although I didn’t have much in formal education, I learned how to make things with my hands, I built radios when I was 9 years old, I built speedometers, and later televisions, I put the lights up so on and so forth. 
When I was 10 years old, I also experienced a very dramatic event. I was gang-raped by a group of teenagers, and i was left on the soccer field to die. I had cuts on my body, probably more than 40 stitches because of a knife   It was not just the physical abuse that was hurtful. it was the emotional abuse that followed. I was called broken shoes. at 10, I was a broken woman. 
Fast forward 10 years, Culture Revolution was over, China re-opened university. Given that I have not had much formal education. I really wanted to go to college. I studied like mad. I was called the girl whose lights never turned off. I took the first college exam i didn't pass, the 2nd year i took it again. in 1978, I past the national exam and went to college. I really wanted to be an astronaut, but i didn't really have much choice. My father was a professor at Nanjing Aeronautics and Astronautics University before he was sent away. So when I grew up, my playground was airplanes and the slider was airplane wings. I have seen a lot of planes on the field.  But i was assigned to study Chinese literature. My mother said, oh please, don’t go study literature. A writer has no future in China. but i wasn't going to listen. I really wanted to go to school.  
So I was admitted to Suzhou University, majoring Chinese literature. I absolutely loved it. I couldn't believe that reading a novel, going to see a play or see a movie, and call that study. It was really fascinating time and China is completely changing its ideology and very open at the time. 
In my senior year, I decided I wanted to pursue graduate school. I wanted to be a journalist. I chose infanticide as my thesis topic, and i went to research the phenomenon of killing baby girls in the country side due to one child policy. In 1979, Chinese government decided that people can only have one child and they enforced one-child policy quite severally. In many countries, people, farmers, or families favor boys over girls. It's not a unique thing for China. But in China, what's unique at that time was the one-child policy. There was this policy called illegal pregnancy. You can be illegal to be pregnant for a second child if it is within 4 years of having the first child. The policy was enforced by local communities, the neighborhood communities. A lot of time, those enforcements are very cruel. 
When I went to the countryside to look at that, I saw baby girls are being killed and I saw babies being thrown into river when their embryological cords are still fresh. I saw baby girls being suffocation in pillow cases and being thrown into garbage dumpsters. What I saw broke my heart. 
Even though I was punished for missing schools and not return to college dormitories, I was possessed to do those research. So I went to many remote areas and interviewed hundreds of women. I heard many stories. I put my research in paper and gave them to my teacher. I haven't written my thesis yet. I just gave the teacher my raw material. 
Unbeknownst to me, she turned those material to the press and the material was apparently passed up and got the attention of the Chinese government. For that I was kicked out of the school. Actually I was put in jail briefly for 3 days. I thought I was going to die. They wouldn't tell me why I was arrested and I didn't know it was because of the infanticide research. I was just put in jail. There was no interrogation, no telling why I was there. 
But fortunately I was let out 3 days later. I was told to go home and wait to be told what I should do. Then I was told that I have two choices.  
One is to leave China and never talk about this again, just quietly leave. I was told to be careful what I say because my sister and family is still in China. This is fairly common in Chinese history back then, probably today also, that the threat to you is not yourself but your family. Or, I will be put in a place remote in China. I thought leaving was a better idea. 
So, it took me a year and half actually for me to get a passport to leave China. My family helped me to pull all the strings and eventually I was able to obtain visa and passport to leave China. I applied to many countries but the US was the easiest to get a student visa so I ended up coming  to the United States. How lucky I am. 
In 1984, January, I stepped on a Pan Am airline and flew from Shanghai to San Francisco, stop by Tokyo. I landed in San Francisco. I had 80 dollars traveler's check and only a few words of English. I tried to learn English when I was in China when I knew I was going to come to the United States. I tried to memorize them but somehow by the time I landed in San Francisco I only remembered 3 words. That was "help", "thank you", and... there was another word that I can't remember. 
Anyway, so I was in San Francisco. I have a traveler's check. Back then, Chinese dollar was not exchangeable with dollar so you should go to a bank, give them RMB and they issue you a traveler's check. For me to go from San Francisco to New Mexico where I got a student visa. The ticket price changed. It become 85 dollars and I only had an 80 dollar traveler's check. Because in China, it's a Communist society that the price doesn't change. I didn't know what to do. 
Of course, blessing San Francisco, there was a lot of Chinese-speaking people so one of the agents was able to explain to me the price changed. There was an American man standing behind me who gave 5 dollars to the counter so I can get my ticket. That was my first impression of an American. That taught me a lesson: when in doubt, always error on the side of generocity.  
To this day, I still haven't found that person who helped me. I was hoping someone who read to book would say, hey, that was me. Five dollars may not have meant much to me but it meant the whole world to me. 
So that's how I landed in United States and went to New Mexico. 
I enrolled in English as Second Language and I thought I was going to study comparative literature. I quickly realized that I didn't have enough English to do that. Also, my teacher who has a Ph. D. in literature couldn't find a job.  I was told to leave China and never to come back again so I don't have the luxury of studying something I couldn't find a job with. So I have to very quickly find something that's marketable. But I didn't have formal K-12 education so I couldn't quite go to study science. 
I asked around what I could study. Someone said why don't you go study computer science. It's a new field. I never heard about computer science so I asked what is that. The student said that is a man-made language used to make stuff. I was like, great, I am good with language and I know how to make stuff. That's what I am going to study. So, that's how I got into computer science. I was very lucky that it's a new field. 
Computer science of course at that time, and maybe today also, has a lot of group projects. It's not always individual projects. I wasn't the best programmer. Programming wasn't really a strong suite of mine but I quickly realized that I was a pretty good software designer. Being trained in literature, in structure, compositions, flow, I found software design to be very easy. So I end up with always having the best programmer in my group because, being a good software designer, our project always get the high scores from the professors. So that's how I got through my computer science career. 
I worked for a start up company and then I went to work for Bell Labs and then I went to work for University of Illinois at their supercomputing center. I went to the supercomputing center because they were doing graphics and visualization and I totally fall in love with that field. It's like art meeting science. 
At the supercomputing center I hired a student, his name is Marc Andreessen. Marc didn't quite like the match and geometry I was doing and decided to work on a browser. So Marc and severl other students wrote the NCSA Mosiac that became Netscape and was also licensed to Microsoft and became Internet Explorer. So he went to start Netscape and the rest was history. 
The university started to push me to start a business. They said, Ping, everything you touched turning into gold. I had no idea how to start a business. At university we have really good jobs. I love my job and also my daughter was 3 years old at the time. But one day my boss Joe Harding said, "All this talk and nobody is doing anything. I am really frustrated." So I said, okay, I will do it. So that's how I started Geomagic. 
[Talk about Geomagic and 3D technology...]

Q:  How is China like you now? What’s the potential of technology like this to solve the humanitarian crisis that factory in so many countries like China poses?
A: 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. 
You can’t see any good comments because it will... if you put a good comment, hundreds of them are gonna come and say this is not helpful. And if they call me a liar, fat liar, bitch, traitor, whatever, you will get one thousand five hundred people will say that is helpful.  
In comparison, the most helpful comment review on Harry Potter in its entire life is five hundred. And in twenty second, a smear comment on amazon will get three times more comments on this is helpful. How does that happen? It happens in twenty seconds! So someone is writing a program... notify something there. You can just go there to see it. It is incredible. 
So I look at it. My book is not available in China. None of those reviewers have read my book and they even say they have never read my book. So there are three things they really don't like me. They don't like me write about “gang rape,” “No, China has no rape.” That’s one. And they don't like I wrote about “infanticide.” “No, China didn’t kill baby girls.” It didn't matter the statistics says thirty million girls were missing. “It didn’t happen.” And of course I’m a traitor because I’m talking about bring job to United States. Actually i was talking about bring job locally ,distributed. And it is not just bring back to United States. For China, I talked about China should make product that carries Chinese Culture. And China has 1.3 billion people there, it is a huge market. It is good for China also. 
But it didn't matter, because, you know, that’s the attack. 
It is interesting, because I love Amazon, don’t get me wrong. I love Jeff. He is probably one of the most respected entrepreneur ever in my life. He is my hero. 
But I always believe failure and success go in hand in hand. Ironically a long time ago, I help to create Internet or the browsers. Today I become the victim of that technology. So the question is to the technologists here, what can we do to prevent this happen. Because those people hiding behind internet with fake ids are so cruel. The attack is so vicious and I don’t understand that phenomenon. And I don’t understand why we allow that happen. And it is more vicious to women than to men in general. It is not Chinese or American, cruelty has no nationality. But allow people to hide behind Internet to be cruel is something we should solve. Because that shouldn't happen to anyone. 
They are not just attack me, my family, my colleagues, but anyone who go voice something authentic get attacked. This is attack to democracy.

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