Thursday, February 6, 2014

Southern Weekly: Packaged Suffering? Ping Fu Tells America her "Cultural Revolution" Story

The following report was originally published in Chinese by Southern Weekly (南方周末) on October 24, 2013. The original is in Chinese down below, following the English translation by Mollie Gossage at Watching America
Packaged Suffering? Ping Fu Tells America her “Cultural Revolution” Story
By Liu Jun, Liu Kuan, Zhou Youqiang, Kou Ling, Zhang Mei
Translated By Mollie Gossage
2013 October 24

Edited by Brent Landon

In her autobiography, Ping Fu describes a story of suffering interwoven with inspiration—she tells of being raped by Red Guards, witnessing her teacher drawn and quartered by four horses, and being deported for writing a thesis on infanticide—finally in America she became a well-known entrepreneur and member of Obama’s think tank. 
The development of Ping Fu’s commercial success and her “inspirational story of suffering” seem interrelated. The molding of her image as “an indomitable business leader” and the development of her narrative skills are closely related.  
“Reflecting on the Cultural Revolution is essential, but one mustn't take others’ suffering on themselves; that is deceiving to the good and honest American people,” said one of Ping Fu’s earliest opponents, Cindy Hao. [no source] 
Ping Fu acknowledges some of her memories’ inaccuracy, even attributing the reasons to “emotional memories,” “cultural differences,” and “errors of the co-author.” 
Even after going through over four months of intense questioning, Chinese-American Ping Fu still seems unwilling to give in. In late Sept. 2013, the Chinese edition of her autobiography, “Bend, Not Break,” was published in Taiwan.  
This book’s English version is the source of Ping Fu’s earlier controversy. In her book, this 55-year-old Chief Strategy Officer for a world-famous 3D printer manufacturer tells a tale of suffering interwoven with inspiration: during the “Cultural Revolution” she was raped by Red Guards; when attending university she was deported for writing a thesis on infanticide; once in America she started out washing dishes; finally she became a vanguard of the 3D printing industry and Obama’s “think tank.” 
“Amended parts are all very subtle; my life story was not modified.” In the preface, Ping Fu affirms that her own story is accurate, and believes that negative commentary from the outside world is slander. [unable to source quote] 
This story, which moves from suffering to glory, meanwhile has triggered a long and tedious dispute—insiders denounced her for telling lies, and Ping Fu’s alma mater Suzhou University issued three consecutive statements condemning this former alumna’s use of false stories to hurt teachers and classmates. In its most recent statement, Suzhou University said they will appeal in a court of law if Ping Fu does not apologize. 
Opponents in China launched an unceasing “cyber manhunt,” revealing new “evidence of fabrication.” They protested to the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services, requesting that they cancel Ping Fu’s citizenship, and are planning to publish books on Ping Fu’s unsavory background. But from the perspective of her supporters, Ping Fu is “the idol of all immigrants,” all of the “extreme and ruthless slander she is confronting” is yet another instance of "the denunciations that were so routine, and so awful, during the Cultural Revolution.” 
Fu Ping emigrated in 1984, and as she becomes active, a halo surrounds this business leader. Her “American legend” is strengthened by her molded Chinese narrative to a large extent—the trials and tribulations of an idealistic saint. But those in China who know the real situation believe Ping Fu’s autobiography violates honesty, loyalty, a sense of honor, as well as traditional Eastern values.  
“Bad Girl” of the Cultural Revolution 
If in the autumn of 1978 you happened to pass through Jiangsu Teacher’s College (now Suzhou University), you would find this sort of scene: a 20-year-old girl in the Chinese department named Ping Fu, walking around in a dress and high-heels. She seems a rarity among the blue and khaki-covered campus. 
That was the second year after university entrance examinations resumed. Dresses and high-heels were symbols of the avant-garde, but also status symbols. She was one of the few in her class to come from a large city like Nanjing. Her father was also a professor of Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  
“She was very aloof, she never really talked to me,” recalled Cha Erming, her college roommate in those days and an educationally-reformed youth returned to the city.  
In that period when city intellectuals were sent to do agricultural labor, Ping Fu instead enjoyed a pampered youth at her aunt’s Western-style house in Shanghai. This maternal aunt’s husband was a very great and important accountant of the Shanghai Bund. Her parents also loved her dearly. In 1972 she arrived at Guanghuamen High School for study, joined the Youth League, was class president, and would go to work in the fields on occasion. While others clasped Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” in their hands every day, she was allowed to read Western novels. 
At age eight the “Cultural Revolution” broke out. Her aunt’s home was impacted; her parents were also very quickly sent away to a labor camp in the outskirts of Nanjing. According to Ping Fu, this was probably the hardest time of her entire life. Her cousin Yu Zhifang recalls, Ping Fu was so young and still she had to look after her younger sister. Because she couldn't clean mold from the rice, it was always green when she cooked it.  
After entering college, Ping Fu was not only avant-garde in appearance; her thinking was also very bold. Once at a celebration she performed a skit, reading the lines “opening arms wide to embrace you,” and simultaneously performing the action. The audience all laughed together. But classmate Liu Buchun remembers how everyone discussed this for quite a while in private, feeling that she lacked a girl’s proper reservation. 
At that time when China had just begun to open, the Chinese people had opportunities for fresh contact with the outside world. But by a very distantly related uncle, Ping Fu had access to a huge number of Western movies. During college, she was most fanatical about those works brimming with rebellion, inspiration, and the tint of romanticism, such as “The Sound of Music,” ”Love is a Many-Splendored Thing,” “Jane Eyre,” and “Zorro.”  
Western culture quickly seeped in to make Ping Fu conspicuously brilliant in her own culture. In 1978, at the midpoint of her first semester, Ping Fu and her classmates established an underground literature group, Red Maple, which focused chiefly on “trauma literature.” The love stories she wrote were often used by teachers as examples to be read aloud before the class. 
Red Maple's excitement upon breaking free from the binds of the Cultural Revolution quickly quieted; it remained in operation for one year and then disbanded. The overwhelming majority of people chose to continue laboring in their studies—in 1978 the college enrollment rate fell short of 7%; every little mistake would influence the future placements. 
For a time, Ping Fu considered compliance with this fate, often waking up early to recite English words, but she “very soon realized she could not see the future.” She rejected entrance into the Communist Party, though she had obtained many good applications for it; and later, because she mischievously slipped laxatives into a classmate’s rice noodles, all other students in the department began to exclude her completely.  
Probably from the beginning of her third year in college, Ping Fu began to skip class frequently—even failing to return to her dormitory at night—her most frequent reason was illness, but many times her head teacher, Ni Junqiang, saw that the signature on the medical leave form was Ping Fu’s own. And one time she said that she had been kidnapped. Ping Fu’s repeated lies brought Mr. Ni to the end of his patience, and he decided to report her to the school.  
In October 1981, the first semester of her senior year, Jiangsu Teacher’s College carried out an administrative demerit punishment against Ping Fu. This meant that she had to return to Nanjing, and that she might also be assigned to a teaching position in a remote village.  
Ping Fu’s mother tearfully sought out a good friend of her brother-in-law, a talented man with the alias Chen Bin. Mr. Chen’s suggestion was to go abroad, but first Ping Fu needed to drop out of school. “If you wait until placements are assigned, and then go abroad, they may say you are not obeying national orders—that’s treason,” advised Chen Bin. 
On Mar. 16, 1982, three months before graduation, Ping Fu applied for withdrawal from school, and the reason was a surprise to everyone: she claimed failure in love caused her a psychological setback. The hospital certificate was created by a friend of her good friend with the alias Qin Long. But unaware of the real circumstances, Ni Junqiang felt guilty for a long while afterwards; he felt that he had cut short a young person’s future prospects.  
"Is There no Boat to the Shore of Freedom?" 
In the spring of 1984, Ping Fu attended English classes at the University of New Mexico, obtaining a U.S. visa with the help of Chen Bin, and paying for the first year of tuition with money lent by an American friend of Mr. Chen’s.  
Just as China’s reform and opening was beginning, a tide of Chinese went abroad; “go to America” became the slogan for a generation. Just like those poor exchange students in those early years, Ping Fu had no choice but to do illegal work to maintain her livelihood. Ping Fu later recalled, some watched others’ children receiving only one U.S. dollar for eight hours of work. 
“Is there no boat to the shore of freedom?” Ping Fu once remembered the anguish of her initial time in America in this way.  
Living in a foreign country, Ping Fu’s self-esteem was both strong and flexible. She once had an argument with an American who slandered Chinese, but in order to quickly break through the language barrier, she lived with Americans in the first week. Very quickly, she transferred from the literature department to the more promising computer science department, afterwards transferring to the more famous University of California.  
“She is someone who really understands how to manage herself,” Chen Bin said. But this wasn't enough—she still needed to get a green card. In September 1986, Ping Fu and an American named Richard Lynn Ewald registered for marriage in Las Vegas. 
But rummaging through all of Ping Fu’s written recollections and interviews, this three-year period of marriage is never brought up. In 1989, Ping Fu divorced; at the same time she also obtained a U.S. green card. 
“I’m not willing to accept all the boredom, dullness, tastelessness and helplessness of life,” Ping Fu once told herself, “I don’t want to live to survive; I want to live out a glorious, rich existence.”  
In late 1980, she was accepted to the nationally third-ranked department of computer science at University of Illinois in Champaign. Here, she fell in love with a married man, a professor of the computer science department named Herbert Edelsbrunner. After experiencing many years of painful complications, they finally applied for marriage in 1991.  
Edelsbrunner is a well-known scholar in the field of geometry. Under his guidance, the completely unknown Ping Fu accomplished a rudimentary knowledge of 3D technology. Public records reveal that for all of Ping Fu’s particularly successful 3D software and academic papers, Edelsbrunner is the primary author. 
Ping Fu later resigned from Bell, finding a job at the University of Illinois’ National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). NCSA is the birthplace for the first-generation web browser Mosaic. 
In 1996, they founded the software development company Geomagic, but growth was exceptionally difficult. In the initial phases the two of them had no income, the company was completely dependent upon Edelsbrunner’s work salary, Ping Fu recalled to a Southern Weekend reporter. Later, upon the brink of bankruptcy, when the sum of Ping Fu’s family’s wealth had been put into the project, still Edelsbrunner did not say a word. 
"Resilient Business Leader" 
1993 was the first time she went home to visit her family. Her close friends and family believed that she was getting along well in America, and they all asked to borrow money from her to start companies. That time marked the height of people leaving former jobs to engage in riskier but more profitable business ventures. Ping Fu refused, causing the resentment of some friends and relatives. Their frustration frustrated Ping Fu greatly. 
“I am not the kind of person who likes to do business. After ten years, perhaps they will all become famous entrepreneurs, and I will still be at the salary level, then there probably wouldn't be anyone complaining about me.”  
“Drifting Bottle” is a book by Ping Fu, which was published domestically in 1996. Her cousin Zhifang Yu is the editor of this book. She recalls how when Hubei Shaer Publishing Society wanted to publish a set of inspirational stories about Chinese people abroad, she, as chief editor, thought of Ping Fu. Because the book was intended for children, the only requirement was that it used a lot of common, everyday language; it certainly didn't include anything on Ping Fu’s later government censorship. 
“Drifting Bottle”: these are words that can perhaps represent Ping Fu’s situation at that time. When writing this book in 1994 she was still struggling to get by, lost and bewildered Ping Fu says. Ping Fu barely kept up any contact with college classmates. Her only connection with Suzhou University was its appearance on her resume.  
Whether it was one of her early publications, or grant proposals after starting the company, Ping Fu’s CV has always included this: in March 1982, she received a Bachelor’s degree in literature from Suzhou University. In fact, according to enrollment status certificates later provided by Suzhou University, she did not graduate and did not receive any degree.  
As the principal sponsor of the NCSA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been the number-one supplier of research funds for Ping Fu. Many of Ping Fu’s requests for funding from the NSF obtained by Southern Weekend reporters show that her beautified portions are more numerous. She said that from 1982 to 1983 she was an instructor at China Southern Airlines, that in China she had published “Two-Minute Children’s Stories,” and that at the NCSA she orchestrated and helped start the Mosaic web browser. NSF finally decided to supply two years of research funding to Ping Fu, the first year giving her 190 thousand dollars. 
But knowing her personal recollections well, during the time that she claimed to be an “instructor,” she was actually at home reciting “900 English sentences” in preparation to go abroad, that children’s book was simply a work that Yu Zhifang requested her to translate, and the introduction on the official NCSA website says that Mosaic was invented by Edelsbrunner in 1993—there is not a single word on the contributions of Ping Fu. 
At this point Ping Fu’s packaging abilities stopped somewhere at the resume level, waiting until she learned how to package her personal narrative is a post-2005 matter. 
2005 was a year of transition for Ping Fu. That girl who at first said she “disliked doing business” achieved enormous success. In this year, Geomagic earned $30 million in revenue, and Ping Fu was described by American magazine “Inc.” as “Entrepreneur of the Year” and also appeared on its cover.  
Savvy, a North Carolina Chinese-American consulting company, said that they planned this media operation. They claimed to have “prepared [the Geomagic] team for key media interviews.” Savvy did not deny that they specifically instructed Ping Fu to tell her own story.  
In the 10,000-plus-word cover story article in Inc. magazine, Ping Fu is described as an adventurer emerging "from the bleakest totalitarianism.” This bleak experience includes being raped by Red Guards on her college campus, being unable to attend school between ages 7 and 18, seeing a teacher being drawn and quartered by four horses right before her own eyes, and being expelled by her university for writing a thesis on infanticide. 
Ping Fu describes this last experience in the greatest detail. The general idea is that she spent two years investigating the phenomenon of infanticide in China; in January 1981, the largest newspaper in Shanghai carried the results of her investigation, and the People’s Daily followed up with a report. This gave rise to international condemnation; the U.N. carried out sanctions against China. Ping Fu was jailed and soon after extradited from China.  
After the Inc. magazine report, the totally unknown Ping Fu instantly gained a great reputation. She began to accept frequent invitations for interviews from mainstream media groups. She also would often insert herself in the company of some very important people. In one interview, Ping Fu said, before she went abroad, the Chinese government initially rejected giving her a passport, and finally a leader in the central government helped her out. 
1.5-meter-tall Ping Fu speaks with calculated and unhurried steps, fashioning herself as a “resilient business leader.” She once told Forbes magazine that when she publicized the disgrace of the Red Guards, it helped her get over her stage fright, which in turn helped her learn to promote items to potential investors. One time, she raised 650 thousand dollars this way. 
“Spokesperson for the American Dream” 
As Ping Fu’s “anti-totalitarian technology upshot” reputation was shaking the U.S., there were still very few people in her ancestral land that had even heard of her. In 2008, Ping Fu and her college classmates had a little reunion in Suzhou. This was the first time she’d gotten together with classmates after a nearly 30-year absence from her alma mater. 
As her classmate Wang Jialun remembers, Ping Fu had really looked forward to getting others’ recognition. She said how she was famous in America. Wang Jialun didn't believe her, and when putting her name in the Baidu search engine back home, there were no results.  
Ping Fu’s relatives also did not recognize her success. Yu Zhifang remembers, in 2007, Ping Fu’s father was seriously ill and had to return home for treatment. While on his deathbed, “as soon as he mentioned Ping Fu he began to cry, saying that besides money, she had nothing else.”  
Her classmates didn't know it, but at that time Ping Fu was recently divorced. “Her husband frequently had affairs, and finally he dumped her.” Yu Zhifang believes that Ping Fu’s subsequent book was done to affirm herself in front of her ex-husband.  
Jiangsu Women’s Federation’s “Take It Easy” carried out the earliest domestic media report on Ping Fu. Han Liqing, who interviewed her, told Southern Weekend reporters that Ping Fu had found her through a friend in the Jiangsu Women’s Federation. “Her primary desire was to have others understand her.” Later, Ping Fu gave several lectures at Nanjing University, but she wasn't actually invited, just introduced through an old retired professor.  
Even though no one had heard of her in China, overseas her previous “tragic story” had conquered the American media and public. In addition, its commercial success gradually progressed. Ping Fu also felt she had become, in some sense, legendary. Just as she officially appeared in the view of the Chinese people, she had already won the title “Outstanding American by Choice.” Ping Fu, following Elaine Chao, head of the U.S. Department of Labor, is the eighth Chinese American to receive this title. 
What many Chinese people don’t know is that before this, Ping Fu had already stepped out of the business world and involved herself with politics. In January 2010, Ping Fu was invited to attend Obama’s State of the Union address in order to boost the morale of Americans deeply entrenched in the mires of unemployment. Ping Fu’s contribution was “helping the U.S. economy by adding jobs.”  
This July, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the establishment of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Ping Fu is one of the 26 advisers. Every year Ping Fu and Obama meet three or four times, Southern Weekend reports being told by Fu. 
In America, these kinds of advisers are too numerous to count. A search on the U.S. Department of Commerce official website for committees finds that the several meetings listed were not with Obama at the White House, but all were in the U.S. Department of Commerce headquarters, and the host was U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke.  
This commonplace advisory position was rapidly inflated to become a role in “Obama’s think tank” once Ping Fu released “Bend, Not Break”; this was an important selling point promoted during its publication. 
While writing this book, out of worries about her English writing abilities, Ping Fu requested the help of famous U.S. biographer MeiMei Fox, who took on the role of being responsible for dictation. Fox recalls to Southern Weekend reporters the reason why she agreed is because she felt that “Ping Fu is a spokesperson for the American Dream.” 
In her book, Ping Fu supplements her sufferings with many new details. Her story sounds even more miserable than it did before. For example, at age eight she was snatched by Red Guards, she grew up in a children’s camp, her father was sent to the Russian border to cut trees for a decade, her teacher gave her a pregnancy test with her fingers, and she was the subject of political persecution and kidnapping and more. 
In America, she again encountered new “sufferings.” For instance, on her third day in the country she was kidnapped by a Vietnamese American. And when she was washing dishes for an American restaurant, she was harassed by Hollywood superstar Sylvester Stallone.  
In late December 2012, “Bend, Not Break” hit the market. It quickly occupied the major U.S. bestsellers lists, and reviewers flocked to Amazon’s official website with a tide of positive comments. “This woman is a symbol for freedom, courage, and the future,” one reader says. “Her story reveals the life of a true hero,” says another.  
This also ushered in the peak of Ping Fu’s career. In January 2013, when the world’s leading 3D printer manufacturing company 3D Systems decided to buy Geomagic, Ping Fu was appointed as Chief Strategic Officer in the new company. 
The Deepest Fear 
The waves of attacks questioning Ping Fu’s veracity were ignited following a post by a Chinese-American named “Lin.” In a long January 2013 post on the website Amazon.com, Lin used his status as a personal witness of the Cultural Revolution to question and refute Ping Fu’s claims that she was raped by Red Guards, unable to attend school, as well as others.  
This quickly attracted responses from Chinese netizens both overseas and domestic. Posts on Amazon continuously gathered evidence of Ping Fu’s various “lies”. Phone calls were also made to the publishing company requesting that “Bend, Not Break” be pulled from the shelves and that unwitting customers be compensated for damages. 
Cindy-Hao, a Seattle-based freelance journalist, is among Ping Fu’s earliest opponents. She shook out a trail of clues and gave it to Didi, a New York Times reporter stationed in Beijing. “Reflecting on the Cultural Revolution is essential, but one mustn't take others’ suffering as their own experience. That is deceiving to the good and honest American people.”  
In February, Ciny Hao and Didi finished a collaborative report on Ping Fu. Hao did a lot of fact-checking. For example, Ping Fu said that she had been kidnapped by a Vietnamese American in Albuquerque. But local police could not find any record of that event.  
The outside world is doubtful. It seems that some Americans are unable to change their impression of Ping Fu. “Muckraker” Cindy Hao was quickly dismissed from the New York Times, which instead published an article in support of Ping Fu. Still other American authors wrote articles claiming it was a smear campaign launched by Chinese nationalists. 
Ping Fu herself did not acknowledge any error in her thinking, either. In her February Huffington Post blog post entitled “Sad, But Not Broken,” she said that this smear campaign caused her to return emotionally to the mistreatment of her youth once again. 
In June 2013, during an interview with Southern Weekend reporters, Ping Fu reiterated, she does not want attention to focus on those details, but on her larger narrative. “Only 5% of the book is bad things about China; 95% of the book is all good things about China.”  
Following penetrating and escalating questioning, especially from former classmates, one by one coming forward and criticizing the falseness of her story, Ping Fu’s stance began to shift. She acknowledged that some of her memories were inaccurate, and attributed the reasons to “emotional memory,” “cultural differences,” and “errors of the co-author.”  
Ping Fu believes she did not personally see her teacher “drawn and quartered.” “During youth I often heard this kind of story, and this scene frequently appeared in my nightmares,” she explained to British publication The Guardian, “but perhaps it was something I only saw in a movie.”  
Additionally, she believes the part about the “finger pregnancy test” is co-author MeiMei Fox’s writing error. And the “rape by Red Guards” she also blamed on MeiMei Fox, who used this to attract readers’ attention. “Earning a Bachelor’s degree from Suzhou University” is actually the result of a Malaysian girl’s carelessness at her company ten years ago. She refused to disclose anything about the infanticide investigations, out of concerns for “protection of informants.”  
Finally, Ping Fu’s alma mater could no longer bear her stance on the treatment of these “lies.” In June Suzhou University issued two consecutive statements, publicizing several pieces of evidence proving that much of Ping Fu’s experiences were fabricated. Her classmates and teachers also decided to come forward, to restore the historical truth. 
Ping Fu says she feels extremely surprised. “I feel that my alma mater has been misled, this is hurtful to me; I would never say anything disrespectful about my alma mater,” Ping Fu told a Southern Weekend reporter.  
In its second statement, Suzhou University requests that the American Library Association cancel its invitation for Ping Fu’s speech, to prevent its poisoning young Americans, but the speech went on as scheduled.  
At noon on June 29, 2013, in Chicago, the annual meeting place for the American Library Association, listeners were thinly scattered. Ping Fu emerged from behind a screen, wearing a dress. The Cultural Revolution was still the principal content of her speech: “My father was sent to an agricultural labor camp. Under the management of the Red Guards…” 
Three months later, the Chinese edition of “Bend, Not Break” was published in Taiwan. In its preface, Ping Fu wrote: “The minute details of my life story have all become points of mockery…...this is my greatest fear, that I will suffer this humiliation again, seems like an inescapable prophecy.”


被包装的“苦难”?
傅苹在美国讲“文革”故事 
作者: 南方周末记者 刘俊 南方周末特约撰稿 刘宽 南方周末实习生 周有强 孔灵 张媚 
在自传里傅苹讲述了一个苦难与励志交织的故事:被红卫兵轮奸,亲眼看到老师被四马分尸,写溺婴论文被驱逐出境,最终在美国成为知名企业家和奥巴马的智囊。 
傅苹在商业上的成就与她“苦难励志故事”的发展呈正相关的关系,“一个坚忍不拔的商业领袖”形象的塑造,与如何讲述自己的故事密切相关。 
“反省文革是很必要的,但不能把别人的苦难安在自己头上,欺骗善良的美国人。”傅苹的最早的反对者之一郝炘说。 
傅苹承认部分记忆失实,并将原因归结为“情感记忆”“文化差异”和“合著者错误”。
纵使经历了四个多月铺天盖地的质疑,美籍华人傅苹似乎仍不愿低头。2013年9月末,其自传《弯而不折》中文版在台湾出版。 
这本书的英文版是此前傅苹造假争议的源头。这位55岁的全球著名3D打印机制造商的首席战略官,在书中讲述了一个苦难与励志交织的故事:她在“文革”中被红卫兵轮奸,大学里因为写溺婴论文被驱逐出境,到美国从刷盘子开始打拼,最终成为美国3D界的先锋和“奥巴马的智囊”。 
“修正的部分都是细微之处,我的人生故事没有改动。”傅苹在自序中坚称自己的故事是真实的,并认为外界对她的负面评论是对她的诋毁。 
这段从苦难到辉煌的故事同时引发了旷日持久的争议——知情者公开指责她说谎。傅苹的母校苏州大学更连续发布三份声明,谴责这位昔日校友用虚假的故事伤害老师和同学的感情。在最近的一份声明中,苏大称,如果她再不道歉就要诉诸公堂。 
中国的反对者们不断对其展开“人肉搜索”并披露新的“造假证据”,他们向美国移民局抗议要求取消傅苹的公民身份,并筹划出书起傅苹老底。但在支持者看来,傅苹是“所有移民的偶像”,她“所面对的那种极端、无情的污蔑”,只是又一次的“文革式语言暴力”。 
傅苹1984年出国,再次活跃时已是光环环绕的商业领袖。她的“美国传奇”在很大程度上借力于她所塑造的中国故事——一个饱经磨难的理想主义圣徒。但来自中国的知情者们却认为傅苹的自述是对诚实、忠信和廉耻等东方传统价值的违背。

革命时代的“坏女孩” 
如果你在1978年的秋天恰好经过江苏师范学院(苏州大学前身),就会看到这样一幕:20岁的中文系女孩傅苹身穿连衣裙,脚蹬高跟鞋,走在蓝色卡其布上衣密布的校园里,她就像个异类。 
那是恢复高考的第二年,连衣裙和高跟鞋是前卫的标志,也是身份的象征。她是班里少有的从南京这样的大城市来的,父亲还是南京航空航天大学的教授。 
“她很清高,不怎么跟我们说话。”当年的返城知青、大学室友查尔明回忆道。
在那个上山下乡的年代,傅苹却在上海姨妈的洋房里享受“娇贵”的青春。她的姨夫是上海滩鼎鼎有名的会计师。父母对她也疼爱有加。1972年到了光华门中学念高中,入团,当班长,偶尔去学工学农,别人天天手捧红宝书,她可以看到西方名著。 
8岁那年“文革”爆发,姨妈家也受到冲击,父母也很快就被发配到南京近郊的五七干校劳动。对于傅苹来说,这大概是人生中最艰难的一段时光。表姐余茝芳回忆,傅苹那么小还要照顾妹妹,由于不会洗清霉米,煮出的饭都是绿色的。 
进入大学后的傅苹不仅外表前卫,思想也很大胆。一次联欢,傅苹演了个小品,一边念台词“敞开胸怀拥抱你”,一边做出这样的动作,台下笑成一团。同学刘步春记得,私下里大家议论了好一阵子,觉得她没有女孩子的矜持。 
在国门刚刚洞开的年代,中国人鲜有接触到外部世界的机会,但凭着一位远方叔叔的关系,傅苹可以接触到大量西方电影。大学时代,她最迷的是那些充满叛逆、励志和浪漫主义色彩的作品,例如《音乐之声》《生死恋》《简·爱》和《佐罗》。 
西方文化的熏陶,很快让傅苹在文学上崭露头角。1978年第一学期过半的时候,傅苹和她的同学成立了一个以伤痕文学为主的地下文学沙龙红枫社。她写的爱情小说经常被老师当成范文在班上诵读。 
解脱“文革”束缚之后的兴奋很快归于平静,红枫社运转了一年就解散了。绝大多数人选择继续苦读——1978年的大学录取率只有不到7%,每个小的过错都会影响日后的分配。 
傅苹一度想这样服从命运的安排,经常早起背英文,但她称“很快发现看不到未来”,她曾为了获得好的分配申请入党,但被拒了,后来因为恶作剧地给偷吃米粉的同学下了泻药,她又遭到全系同学的排挤。 
大概从大三开始,傅苹开始经常性地旷课,还夜不归宿,最常给的理由是生病了,但班主任倪均强有好几次在病假单上看到傅苹自己的笔迹。还有一次,她说她被绑架了。傅苹三番五次的撒谎,让倪均强忍无可忍。他决定向学校汇报。
1981年10月,大四上学期,江苏师院对傅苹做出行政记过的处分。这意味着,她非但没办法回南京,还可能被分配到边远乡村当老师。 
她的母亲哭着找到傅苹姨夫的一位颇有能耐的好友陈斌(化名),陈的建议是出国,但必须先退学。“等分配之后再出国,会说你不服从国家分配,是叛国投敌。”陈斌说。 
1982年3月16日,离毕业还有3个月,傅苹办理了退学手续,理由让所有人都大跌眼镜:恋爱失败导致的精神受挫。医院证明是她的好友秦陇(化名)托朋友弄的。但不知内情的倪均强此后为此内疚好一阵,觉得中断了一个年轻人的前程。 
“为什么通往自由的彼岸竟无舟可渡?” 
1984年春天,傅苹前往新墨西哥州大学补习英文,她在陈斌的担保下拿到美国签证,陈的一位美国朋友又借给她第一年的学费。 
此时正值中国改革开放初期的出国潮,“到美国去”成为一代人的口号。和早年那些穷留学生一样,傅苹不得不靠打黑工维持生计。傅苹后来回忆,有回给人带孩子,干了8个小时对方只给她一美元。 
“为什么通往自由的彼岸竟无舟可渡?”傅苹曾这样回忆起初到美国时的苦闷。 
在异国,傅苹的自尊心既强烈又不失灵活。她曾与一个诋毁中国人的美国人大吵一架,但为了尽快闯过语言关赴美第一个星期就和美国人同住。很快,她又从文学系转到更有前景的计算机系,继而转学至名气更大的加州大学。 
“她是一个很懂得规划自己的人。”陈斌说。但这样仍是不够的,她还需要获得一张绿卡。1986年9月,傅苹跟一个名叫Richard Lynn Ewald的美国人在拉斯维加斯注册结婚。 
但是翻遍傅苹所有的回忆文章和采访,这段三年的婚姻从未被提及。1989年,傅苹离婚,同时也拿到了美国绿卡。 
“我不愿接受生活中的种种无聊、无趣、无味、无奈。不为生存而活,要活出一个灿烂丰富的生命来。”傅苹曾这样告诉自己。 
1980年代末,她考上了在全美排名第三的伊利诺伊大学计算机系,在这里,她爱上了有妇之夫、计算机系教授赫伯特·爱德尔斯布朗纳。在经历多年痛苦的纠葛之后,他们最终在1991年注册结婚。 
赫伯特是美国几何学界的知名学者。在赫伯特的帮助下,寂寂无名的傅苹完成了3D技术的原始积累。公开资料显示,傅苹在3D界那些颇有成就的软件和论文,赫伯特几乎都是第一作者。 
傅苹后来从贝尔辞职,在伊利诺伊大学的美国国家超级计算机应用中心(NCSA)谋得一份工作。NCSA是第一代网页浏览器Mosaic的诞生地。 
1996年,他们创办了杰魔公司,开发3D软件,但是发展异常艰难。傅苹对南方周末记者回忆,草创期他们俩不拿工资,公司都是靠赫伯特的工资养活。后来快要倒闭了,傅苹家里所有的钱都拿去垫底,赫伯特也没有说个不字。 
“坚忍不拔的商业领袖” 
1993年第一次回国探亲,亲朋好友以为她在美国混得不错,都问她借钱开公司,当时正值全民下海的高潮。傅苹拒绝了,引起了一些亲友的不满。这让傅苹很苦恼。 
“我属于不喜欢做生意的人。十年以后,也许他们都成了有名有钱的商人,而我仍然是个薪水阶层,那时大概不会有人埋怨我了。”傅苹在她的中文回忆录《漂流瓶》中回忆。 
《漂流瓶》是傅苹1996年在国内出版的一本书。表姐余茝芳是这本书的编辑。她回忆,湖北少儿出版社当时要出一套中国人在海外的励志故事,担任副总编辑的她想起了傅苹。因为是给孩子看的,只是要求尽量写得通俗些,并没有傅苹后来所说的政治审查。 
“漂流瓶”三个字或能代表傅苹当时的处境。傅苹说,1994年写这本书的时候她还在为生存打拼,很迷茫。傅苹极少跟大学同学保持往来。她跟苏大唯一的联系出现在她的履历中。 
无论是早期发表论文,还是开公司后申请科研经费,傅苹在履历中都有这一段:1982年3月,获得苏州大学文学学士学位。事实上,根据苏大后来提供的学籍证明——她没有毕业,也没有拿到学位证书。 
作为NCSA的主要赞助商,美国国家科学基金会(NSF)是给傅苹提供科研经费最多的机构之一。南方周末记者获得的多份傅苹申请NSF经费的简历显示,她美化的部分还有更多,她称1982年到1983年在南航担任讲师,曾在中国出版过《两分钟童话故事》,还在NCSA领导并帮助开发了Mosaic浏览器。NSF最终决定为傅苹提供两年的科研经费,第一年给了19万美元。 
但熟悉她的人回忆,“当讲师”这段时间傅苹正在家里背“英语九百句”准备出国,那本童话故事书也只是余茝芳请她编译的作品,而NCSA官网的介绍中称Mosaic是安德森在1993年发明的,只字未提傅苹的贡献。 
此时傅苹的包装能力还停留在简历层面,等到她学会讲故事包装自己是2005年之后的事。 
2005年对于傅苹来说是个转折之年,当初那个号称“不喜欢做生意”的女人取得了巨大的成功。这一年,杰魔公司营收达到3000万美元,傅苹被美国《公司》杂志评为“年度企业家”并登上了封面。 
一家名叫Savvy的北卡罗莱纳州的华人咨询公司声称,是他们策划了这次媒体行动。“我们帮助培训杰魔员工如何应对媒体。”Savvy公司并不讳言,是它教傅苹讲她自己的故事。 
在《公司》杂志那篇上万字的封面报道中,傅苹被描述成一个“从最凄凉的极权主义走出来的冒险家”,这些凄凉的经历包括:在大学校园里被红卫兵轮奸,7到18岁没进过校门,亲眼看到老师被四马分尸,因为大学写溺婴论文被驱逐出境…… 
傅苹对最后一段经历讲得最细。大意是,她花了两年去调查中国的溺婴现象,1981年1月,上海最大的报纸刊登了她的调查成果,《人民日报》跟进报道,引起国际舆论谴责,联合国对中国进行制裁,她被投入监狱,随后被逐出中国。 
《公司》杂志的报道,让名不见经传的傅苹在美国名声大噪。她开始频繁接受美国主流媒体采访。傅苹还经常把自己跟一些大人物联系在一起。在一次采访中,傅苹说,出国前,中国政府最初拒绝给她护照,最终一位中央领导帮助了她。 
身高1米5的傅苹讲话慢条斯理,时常将自我塑造成一个“坚忍不拔的商业领袖”。她曾对《福布斯》杂志说,被红卫兵公开羞辱的经历,让她摆脱了怯场情绪,这是她善于向投资者推广项目的原因。有一次,她因此筹到了650万美元。 
“美国梦的代言人” 
当傅苹以“反极权的科技新贵”面貌在美国名声大震时,她的祖国并没有多少人听说过她。2008年,傅苹和大学同学在苏州小聚,这是她阔别母校近30年后第一次跟同学见面。 
同学王家伦记得,傅苹很期待获得别人的认可,她说她在美国很有名。王不相信,回家百度了下,什么都没搜到。 
傅苹的家人对她的成就也不太认可。余茝芳回忆,2007年,她父亲病重回国治病,弥留之际,“一提起傅苹就流泪,说她除了钱没别的东西了”。 
她的同学不知道的是,当时的傅苹刚刚离婚不久。“她先生经常出轨,后来抛弃了她。”余茝芳认为,傅苹后来这本书,是为了在前夫面前证明自己。 
江苏妇联主办的《莫愁》是最早对傅苹进行报道的国内媒体。采访她的韩丽晴对南方周末记者回忆,傅苹是通过江苏妇联的朋友找到她的。“她主要希望别人会了解自己。”后来傅苹还在南京大学做了次演讲,但并不是被邀请的,而是经由一位退休老教授介绍。 
纵使在国内无人听闻,但在大洋彼岸此前的“悲惨故事”征服了美国媒体和公众,加上商业上的逐步成功,傅苹逐渐成为某种意义上的传奇。当她正式出现在中国人视野时,她已在2012年获得“杰出美国人”称号。傅苹是继美国劳工部部长赵小兰之后第八位获此称号的华人。 
很多中国人不知道的是,在此之前,傅苹已跨越商界涉足政坛。2010年1月,傅苹获邀旁听奥巴马发表国情咨文,用来给深陷失业泥潭的美国人打气,傅苹的贡献是“扩大雇员帮助美国经济”。 
这年7月,美国商务部宣布成立一个创新和创业国家顾问委员会,为白宫提供咨询,傅苹是26名顾问之一。傅苹告诉南方周末记者,她每年要跟奥巴马会面三四次。 
在美国,类似的委员会不胜枚举,在美国商务部官网搜寻该委员会的报道,几次例会中并没有奥巴马和白宫的身影,都是在美国商务部召开,主持人是时任美国商务部部长骆家辉。 
这个普通的顾问职位,等到傅苹出版《弯而不折》时被迅速放大成为“奥巴马的智囊”,成为出版商推广时的一个重要卖点。 
写这本书时,出于对英文写作能力的担心,傅苹请来美国知名传记作家福克斯(MeiMei Fox)操刀,她负责口述。福克斯对南方周末记者回忆,之所以答应,是因为觉得“傅苹是美国梦的代言人”。 
在书中,傅苹补充了许多新的受难细节,听上去,比之前的更加凄惨。比如8岁时被红卫兵抢走;在儿童集中营中长大;父亲被发配到中俄边境砍了十年的树;被老师用手指验孕;遭到政治迫害和绑架等。 
到了美国,她又碰到了新的“苦难”。例如,到美国第三天就被一个越南裔美国人绑架,她在美国餐馆里打工被好莱坞巨星史泰龙骚扰。 
2012年12月底,《弯而不折》上市,并迅速占据美国各大畅销书排行榜,好评像潮水一样涌向亚马逊的官网:“这个女人是自由、勇气和未来的象征。”“她的故事展现了一个真正英雄的生活。” 
傅苹的事业也因此迎来顶峰。2013年1月,全球领先的3D打印机制造商3D Systems公司决定收购杰魔公司,傅苹在新公司里被任命为首席战略官。 
最深的恐惧 
针对傅苹的质疑浪潮是在一位名叫“Lin”的华人发帖之后引爆的。2013年1月,Lin以“文革”亲历者的身份在亚马逊网站发表长文,对傅苹“红卫兵强奸”、“无法上学”等说法挨个进行驳斥。 
这很快引起海外华人和国内网民的回应,人们在亚马逊网站上留言,不断搜集傅苹的各种“说谎”证据,还给出版社打电话要求将《弯而不折》撤出书架,并向不明真相的顾客赔偿损失。 
郝炘,西雅图的自由撰稿人,傅苹最早的反对者之一。她将线索抖给《纽约时报》驻北京的记者Didi。“反省文革是很必要的,但不能把别人的苦难安在她自己头上,欺骗善良的美国人。” 
2月,她和Didi合作完成了一篇关于傅苹的报道,郝炘参与了很多求证工作。例如,傅苹称她被越南裔美国人绑架过,绑架发生地点是阿尔伯克基市,可他们在当地警察局里找不到有关此事的记录。 
外界的质疑,似乎无法改变某些美国人对傅苹的观感。“扒粪者”郝炘很快被《纽约时报》解雇,同时该报发文力挺傅苹,还有美国作家撰文称“这是中国的民族主义者发起的一场抹黑行动”。 
傅苹自己也没有承认错误的意思。2月,她在《赫芬顿邮报》上发表了一篇题为《伤心但不屈服》的博客,称这场抹黑运动让她的感情受到了年轻时的虐待。 
2013年6月下旬,在接受南方周末记者采访时,傅苹一再说,不要把注意力一直放在那些细节上,要看到她大的故事。“整本书只有5%是写中国不好的,95%都是写中国好的。” 
随着质疑的深入和升级,尤其是昔日同学纷纷站出来指责其造假,傅苹的态度开始发生转变。她承认部分记忆失实,并将原因归结为“情感记忆”“文化差异”和“合著者错误”。 
傅苹承认,她没有亲眼看到老师被红卫兵“四马分尸”。“小时候经常听到这类故事,在噩梦中常常出现这类场景。”她对英国《卫报》解释说,“但我也许是在电影里看见的。” 
此外,“手指验孕”那段,她认为这是合著者福克斯的笔误;而“被中国驱逐”之说,也归咎于福克斯用以吸引读者之举;“取得苏州大学学位”则是十年前公司一个马来西亚女孩粗心大意;而调查溺婴的往事,她则以“保护知情人”而拒绝透露。 
最终,傅苹的母校无法忍受傅苹对待“谎言”的态度。6月份,苏大连续发布两份声明,公布多份证据称傅苹捏造了苏大的许多经历。她的同学和老师也决定站出来,还原历史真相。 
傅苹说她感到非常惊讶。“我感觉母校被误导,这对我是有一些伤害,我决不会对母校说任何不尊敬的话。”傅苹对南方周末记者说。 
在苏州大学的第二份声明中,苏大要求美国图书馆协会取消对傅苹的演讲邀请,以防毒害美国年轻人,但演讲还是如约开始了。 
2013年6月29日中午12点,位于芝加哥的美国图书馆协会的年会现场,听众稀稀落落,傅苹身穿裙装从屏风后闪出。“文革”依然是她演讲的主要内容:“我的父母被送到农村劳改集中营。在红卫兵的看管下……” 
三个月后,《弯而不折》的中文版在台湾出版。“在我人生故事的最小细节,都成了嘲笑的话柄……我最深的恐惧,就是再次遭受羞辱,似乎一语成谶。”在中文版自序中,傅苹这样写道。

1 comment:

  1. "China Southern Airlines" should be "Nanjing Aeronautical Institute", per Ping Fu's resume.

    http://www.debunkingbendnotbreak.com/2013/07/document-fu-pings-resume-for-her-nsf.html



    ReplyDelete