Sunday, April 14, 2013

Questionable Fact: Synchronized Political and Romantic Troubles

The Original Story:
The phantom political trouble Fu Ping experienced in her second year in college had another consequence, as she described on Page 252 of Bend, Not Break:
I also knew for sure that I now could not form a romance with anyone. Soon after my troubles, my dearest friend and classmate, Jin Lin, announced that his family had introduced him to a girl from a Red Army family whom he intended to marry after graduation. No one in our group of friends knew that he told me this with a deep sense of regret -- not because the girl was an unsuitable wife for him, but because he had hoped that we might have a chance someday. I was touched and wished him well, encouraging him to proceed with the engagement and keep his distance from me. I had to push Jin Lin away to spare us both the trouble that would have come from his romantic involvement with someone as black as I.
She went on to explain that Uncle W suggested her to declare that she had "gone crazy" and drop out of school but she did not follow his advice.

Two years later, she would get into political trouble again with her supposed infanticide research thesis work (we will get into that next). She did drop out of school that time, citing mental breakdown. Interestingly enough, as an evidence for that trouble, she provided Didi Kirsten Tatlow of International Herald Tribune a letter from a former classmate, as Ms. Tatlow reported:
Ms. Fu sent me a scanned copy of what she said was a letter from a fellow student, dated May 1982. In the hand-written letter, he mentions that Ms. Fu left university abruptly, without graduating, as all the others were finishing their theses -- under mysterious circumstances that classmates gossiped about but didn't understand.  
He writes that college officials were saying that Ms. Fu had a nervous breakdown after being jilted. A classmate was named as the former boyfriend.  
Ms. Fu said in the interview that this was a cover-up and that in reality she was in political trouble, that her thesis had been secretly passed by a sympathetic teacher to a newspaper and traveled up the chain. Eventually, she said, it caused a national and international scandal about the abuses of the one-child policy.  
In the letter, the classmate wonders if the story about the jilting was true. He writes that he spoke to the jilter “for about an hour” about Ms. Fu, but the man was distant and “He says he was also a victim.” 
The Debunking:
After being jilted by Jin Lin around 1980, Fu Ping did not say anything of her personal life for the rest of her college life in Bend, Not Break. It was as if she indeed "knew for sure" that she was doomed on the romantic front and avoided it entirely. In the book about her political trouble in the senior year, there was no mention of romance or classmates.

Which makes the letter she showed Didi Kirsten Tatlow rather curious.

In this 1982 version, the classmate who wrote the letter was not sure if the jilting story was true, but he spoke to the jilter who did not deny it. For the officials to use it as a cover story, there had to be at least some truth behind it. Thus, Fu Ping had two romantic relations that broke apart for political reasons.

It is not unusual that a person's romantic failures coincide with their political troubles, as the latter usually asserts tremendous pressure on relationships. The question is why Fu Ping mentioned only one in her book.

We don't know if the 1982 jilter is (also) Jin Lin. [Upon inquiry, Ms. Tatlow refused to disclose this information, citing ethics.] If Jin Lin had reconciled with her and only to dump her again in the face of another political trouble, it would have been a much bigger, more interesting, and more dramatic story that warranted more pages in the book. The same is also true, but to a slightly lesser extent, that a different boyfriend did the same thing.

Or, could it simply be the case that Fu Ping used the same romantic misfortune in two separate occasions of her life, two years apart?

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