Saturday, May 4, 2013

Broken Fact: Fu Ping's Kidnapping at Albuquerque

The Original Story:
On Pages 4-9 of Bend, Not Break, Fu Ping told another bizarre story of her life, that she was kidnapped and wrongfully imprisoned by someone who sought her out at the Albuquerque airport upon her initial arrival:
When I got to Albuquerque, I found myself stranded once again. My father had given me the name of Mr. Sheng, a former student of his who was studying at the University of New Mexico and had helped my family to get me accepted there. I called him collect several times, but the phone rang endlessly... 
A car pulled up in front of me sometime later, When I looked up with hazy eyes, I saw a Chinese man sitting in the driver's seat. He rolled down the window slowly...
The man, who turned out to be "a Vietnamese refugee of Chinese descent," took her instead to his own apartment and locked her inside with two young boys of his with little to no food. It was only on the third day they managed to have their cries of help heard and police arrived. Citing fear and confusion, Fu Ping chose not to cooperate with the police:
The police tried to get me to press kidnapping charges against the Vietnamese man. I refused. I simply begged them to set me free. Eventually they gave up and put a call into UNM on my behalf. They got directions for where on campus to take me: the International Student Center. 
I arrived at the University of New Mexico in a squad car.
The Questioning:
On February 20, 2013, Didi Kirsten Tatlow wrote on International Herald Tribune:
At the beginning of her memoir, Ms. Fu writes of being kidnapped by a Vietnamese-American on arrival in the U.S. state of New Mexico and locked in his apartment to care for his very young children, whose mother had left, in a bizarre incident. A spokeswoman at the Albuquerque Police Department’s Records Office, where the alleged kidnapping took place, said she could not locate such an incident in their records. Asked about it, Ms. Fu repeated that she did not press charges as, fresh from China, she was terrified of all police, “So I don’t know how they keep records, if there is no criminal charges or record.” 
The Debunking:
Cindy Hao, who was also credited for the report by Didi Kirsten Tatlow above, actually did the investigation with the Albuquerque Police Department. She had described Fu Ping's story to the police who searched their database for a police report but found none. Cindy Hao asked if there would be a police report for such incident if the victim did not press charges, the police answered, "Absolutely."

Other people have also inquired and received same responses from the police office.

Kidnapping, imprisonment, and endangerment of the lives of not only Fu Ping but 2 young children is an extremely serous crime. It is inconceivable that the police would not pursue the criminal just because one of the victims refused to press charges. And even so, there would have been a police report for the rescuing and investigative effort, as they said, "absolutely."

Besides this obvious problem, there are also several tell-tales that this whole story was made up:

The Vietnam man claimed that his wife just walked out of him so he needed someone to look after his children. So, what was he doing at the airport picking up a random stranger? Was he so nice to have just given his estranged wife a ride there? If he cared about his children, would he be locking them up with a victim of his with no food for days?

Fu Ping described the place as "government-subsidized housing for refugees," which tends to be condense and crowded. It's hard to believe that they had to yell from a window for three days before someone heard them.

Then, in her earlier autobiography Drifting Bottle, she described a normal arrival at Albuquerque with no drama whatsoever. In fact, on the third day in that book, she was already dining with her local contact Kaili (凯利) -- very likely the "Mr. Sheng" -- and complaining that Kaili failed to contact her earlier (Pages 37-38). She would not be making the complain if she had been locked up for those three days.

One of the main themes of Drifting Bottle is her suffering and struggle in the US as a foreign student. While it could be justifiable that that earlier book did not contain her childhood and college suffering in China for political reasons, the same could not apply for not including the kidnapping story that happened on her first day in America, if it indeed happened.


  1. Eddie,

    A typo. Should be "so nice" not "no nice"

  2. The guy talked to her in Chinese. How would he know that she was Chinese and couldn't speak English?