Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Questionable Fact: Fu Ping's Arrest by Kidnapping

The Original Story:
On Pages 255-257 of Bend, Not Break, Fu Ping details how she was arrested because of her supposed research on infanticide:
One day in the fall of 1982, as I innocently walked across campus making preparations for graduation, someone sneaked up behind me, jammed a black canvas bag over my head, and bound my wrists together tightly. "Don't scream," a menacing male voice whispered as I was escorted into a nearby car. 
We drove for hours...
After 3 days of solitary confinement, she was released:
...As he drove me to my birth parents' apartment in Nanjing, we chatted a little. He told me that I had brought shame to our country because of my research on female infanticide, which had caused an international human rights uproar....
The Later Story:
After her story and timeline was questioned, Jenna Goudreau of Forbes reported that:
Late last night, Fu’s publicist emailed me that they “confirmed that Ping started school in 1978 and left school in the fall of 1982 after being held by the government. She arrived in the U.S. on January 14, 1984.”
The Debunking:
There are several serious questionable facts in this little story:
  1. The timeline simply does not work. Fu Ping entered college in 1978, so she should have graduated and left school before summer of 1982, if not having already dropped out earlier. Since her publicist has specifically reconfirmed it, it can't be a typo. But how could she still be "making preparations for graduation" in her school in the fall of 1982? (Graduation schedules were very tightly controlled in China at the time.)
  2. The geography does not work. If she was arrested in her school in Suzhou. Why did the police not sent her back to the school but drove her all the way to Nanjing upon release? It was not an easy drive in those days when there was not yet a modern highway.
  3. Most importantly of all, why would the police chose such an extreme manner to execute the arrest? In early 1980s, it's pretty common that school authorities or police visited "troubled" students in the open and took them to offices for questioning. There was no need to stage a dramatic, mafia-style kidnapping.
Is this another one of Fu Ping's imagination emotional memory at work?

Fu Ping's Explanation:
On July 3, 2013, Fu Ping told Qiaobao that the "fall 1982" was a "typo" in the book and the arrest actually happened in the spring. She did not bother the explain further of her publicist's clarification and other issues within this story.

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