Saturday, July 6, 2013
About Fu Ping
This bio was written according to what Fu Ping had told us in her book and interviews. Follow the embedded links to learn more.
Fu Ping (傅苹), known as Ping Fu in the west, was born on May 30, 1958, the anniversary of Rape of Nanjing. Her birth father was a grandchild of a famous revolutionary and her family had close ties with Dr. Sun Yat-sen, father of the Republic of China.
When she was only 11 days old, her mother decided to send her to Shanghai to be raised by her mother's sister and her husband, whom Fu Ping referred to as Shanghai Mama and Shanghai Papa, respectively. Fu Ping lived a luxurious lifestyle in Shanghai, where her Shanghai Papa taught her the virtue of bamboo.
Her happy childhood was brutally interrupted in 1966 when Red Guards marched into her Shanghai villa and "deported" her back to Nanjing, where she arrived just in time to see her Nanjing parents being sent away. On that day, the 8-year-old Fu Ping lost both sets of her parents and was forced to take care of her 4-year-old sister, surviving in a "ghetto."
For the next 10 years of Cultural Revolution, Fu Ping had no formal schooling. She was forced to eat "bitter meal," attend "struggle sessions," and witness unspeakable atrocities. As if that wasn't enough, she was gang-raped when she was only 10. With no school, she was assigned to work in factories and farms as a child labor and even be a child solider in the military.
But nonetheless she was occasionally allowed to have some fun and at least took one field trip with Red Guards. She may also have forgot to tell us that she was able to join the Chinese Communist Youth League while in the middle school she did not attend.
After the Cultural Revolution ended, she studied like crazy and passed the very first college entrance exam in 1977. (Despite her diligence, however, she somehow missed the concept of "fraction" in her math studying.) Although she had wanted to be an astronaut, the government assigned her to study Chinese Literature at Suzhou University.
Suzhou University turned out to be both heaven and hell for her. While enjoying college life, she was forced to submit herself to the humiliating "period checking" with fingers. She joined an underground student organization called Red Maple Society and published a journal that caught the eyes of no other than Deng Xiaoping. For that, the school "arrested" and interrogated her and her classmates.
But Fu Ping was not done. She then launched a graduation thesis project to investigate the female infanticide phenomenon due to China's one-child policy. Her report found its way to a prominent newspaper (although she is not too sure which one) and caused a huge backlash including threatened UN sanctions against China. She was once again arrested, or rather, kidnapped on campus. Guess who came to her rescue this time? Yes, it was Deng Xiaoping who ordered her release.
Nevertheless, Fu Ping was being deported or expelled from China. But in order to leave, she still had to wait more than a year for a passport, which was eventually delivered as if in a spy operation. Even though her friends and family had worked hard to secure the acceptance by University of New Mexico for her, somehow she had no idea that was where she was going.
Coming to America was an adventure by itself. She found herself short of money at San Francisco airport and then kidnapped for 3 days upon landing at Albuquerque. But she survived, with only three English words at her disposal.
She worked hard at New Mexico despite being cheated as a babysitter and sexually harassed by Sylvester Stallone as a waitress. She made it through and became a graduate student at UNM. However, that school must have been so poor that, one year before graduation, Fu Ping suddenly decided to abandon her upcoming MS and become an undergraduate student at University of California at San Diego, starting all over again.
UCSD proved to be much nicer to Fu Ping. There, she had a marriage that she forgot to mention, which secured her immigration status. She also had a job that paid her more than handsomely. While happy at work, she didn't like what her boss was doing. Upon graduation, she apparently missed the first opportunity to get really rich.
It's not known when exactly she divorced her first husband Richard Lynn Ewald, but she did find her true love with Herbert Edelsbrunner and joined the National Center of Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois. There, she hired a lad named Marc Andreesen who, well, changed the world.
In 1996, a dozen years after she was deported, Fu Ping was able to publish the first version of her autobiography, Drifting Bottle, in China. In that book, she told a dramatically different version of her early life from those in Bend, Not Break.
In the late 1990s, Fu Ping and her then-husband Herbert Edelsbrunner co-founded Geomagic and she served as its CEO for many years. The remarkable success made her a celebrity in the tech and entrepreneur world.
On the last day of 2012, she published her autobiography, Bend, Not Break, co-written with Meimei Fox. The rest, as they say, is herstory.