Saturday, March 9, 2013

Wu Liangfu: Why Has Ping Fu's Book Generate So Much Criticism?

Among many negative reviews on Amazon, this one, published on February 26, 2013, is unusual in that the author chose to disclose his name, contact information, and personal and family background. It's an apparent response to the accusation that criticisms are engineered by "Chinese nationalists" in a "smear campaign."

There is little doubt that Ms. Fu fabricated her life story in her book, Bend, Not Break. According to, however, this book became one of the best sellers. To most American readers, her story reads very inspiring. One of the buyers commented on that her daughter cannot put down the book. 
The main issue between fabrication and a best seller is that most American readers cannot, or they have no reason to, challenge the details of her life stories. The political system and the communist regime in China are disliked by the West, and Ms. Fu took advantage of this common view of the Chinese government and painted her life in China with some horrible stories in an attempt to gain the hearts of many Americans. 
Ms. Fu succeeded! Many readers assigned "5-stars" to the rating of her book. 
If we understand her way of writing her stories, we should also understand why she continues to defend her book by saying that many people who criticize her book are probably pro Chinese government. According to New York Times, Ms. Fu stated that "as China got stronger, nationalistic views got stronger," and "making a `civil conversation' about disagreements apparently harder." Obviously, she was trying to bring nationalism as a reason for people to dislike her book. 
Some news media agencies somehow still believe her story. As reported by "&," for example, The Daily Beast, an online news site, decided in Fu's favor. They concluded that Ms. Fu was the victim of an organized "hate campaign" being carried out by "an army of Chinese bloggers" who may be abetted by the party and government. "The campaign has morphed into a vindictive effort to destroy her life, to have her honors and awards withdrawn, the pending sale of Geomagic disrupted." 
How did The Daily Beast reach that conclusion? By talking to Ms. Fu? 
It may not be necessary, but I will introduce myself anyway: I came to the US in 1987, and I went to college and have been working for a municipal government for about 20 years. My wife, who is a retired nurse and I live in a small town called Downers Grove, Illinois, just 30 miles west of Chicago. My contact information is listed at the end of this post in case some media want to contact me in forming their conclusions. 
I was born in 1954 and experienced the times in China as she described in her book. During the Cultural Revolution, my family, as well as my wife's, suffered a great deal. I feel Ms. Fu's fabrication is a huge disrespect to those who died or barely survived that period of time. 
Yes, during the Cultural Revolution, many people were beaten to death. 
Yes, in China there are many forced abortions even today. 
Yes, in China there were reported as well as unreported cases where death row inmates were executed alive in order to harvest their organs. I even personally knew a person who received a kidney taken from an execution site. 
However, can such dark history be used to justify her fabrication? It seems to me that her audacity to make up histories and the level of her ability to fabricate stories show the dark side of human nature. Her stories have contributed nothing positive to the society. 
I believe many others that are disgusted by her fabricated stores had similar life experience, and they have nothing to do with defending the political system and the regime. People are simply defending the truth! People do not like liars when seeing one! 
I am not surprised to see such a person such as Ms. Fu once in awhile. However, what I do not understand was why the publisher, the Penguin Group, failed to check the facts in her manuscript. It should not be a very difficult task. People who are in the academic field know that when accepting an academic paper for publication, the journal would have at least 2 to 3 reviewers read the paper and give some feedback. 
For, it was a different story because a book such as Bend, Not Break,
would help generate much needed traffic on their web site and subsequent revenues. As people say, controversies sell! 
It has been reported that Bend, Not Break was not her first attempt to write about her life. There was another one written by Ms. Fu in 1996. That book was published in Chinese and in China . There are inconsistencies between two books. 
It would be easy to explain the inconsistencies between the two books. Ms. Fu would state that since that book was published in China, she had to make no mention of any horrible stories in order to have the book pass inspections by the authority. 
Ms. Fu's motivation to start her book could be her belief that "her" life may be an inspiration to many others. Or she just wanted to make herself more of a public figure. Or she just wanted to make some money off her book. 
Regardless of her motivation, she did not need to fabricate her past life. If she was a successful entrepreneur, it should be sufficient to make her a public figure already; the way she worked to her success should be inspiring to many young people in both US and China. 
Nevertheless, since she fabricated stories about her life (!), people have the right to challenge everything else she says and does. Was she a real entrepreneur? What else in her life was made of fabrications? 
I wish that as a strong person as she tried to portrait herself, Ms. Fu would have the "audacity" to say to all of her readers that "I am sorry." That, ladies and gentlemen, will make her "bend, not break!" 
Liangfu Wu

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