• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 12:03am

Chinese college threatens libel suit against US author Ping Fu

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 July, 2013, 10:12am

Chinese-American author Ping Fu may soon be hit by international lawsuits for her controversial memoir Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds, which has been debunked by Chinese academics and critics.

Fu’s alma mater, Soochow University in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, said on Friday that anecdotes in her memoirs, in which she makes claims that during her time at the university she was arrested for her college research, were “falsehoods” and called on the author to participate in a public debate to clarify the details.

The university said that if Fu failed to respond and apologise, it would file libel lawsuits both in China and the United States against her.

“These falsehoods have given both our school and country a poor reputation and caused our alumni and friends to feel deeply incensed,” Soochow University said in a statement.

The university said earlier this week it had formed an investigation team to examine the controversial book, published in February, after it had received several inquiries from university alumnis and media on the memoir. A staff member of Soochow University told the South China Morning Post that the investigation had gone on for about three months and they would hold a press conference next week to announce the results, with Fu’s then teachers on hand to answer questions from the public.

The Post first reported in February the doubts raised by academics and readers buying Fu’s book, who questioned the dramatic details in her memoir including what she called the “twisted cultural revolution experience” of studying at Soochow University. One of her controversial anecdotes claimed school officials conducted intrusive physical checks on female students’ periods, supposedly for birth control purposes.

Other shocking claims in Fu's book include that she was sent to a labour camp at age 8 or 9 with her younger sister during the Cultural Revolution, tortured, gang-raped, and forced into child labour.

In a 2010 interview with NPR, Fu said that she had, during the Cultural Revolution, witnessed Red Guards execute a teacher by tying each her limbs to horses and having them tear the teacher into pieces, done specifically to frighten the kids into submission.

Heated debate ensued when China’s well-known academic “liar hunter”, Fang Zhouzi, publicly challenged the accuracy and consistency of Fu’s memoirs, after the computer scientist and author conducted interviews with US media in which she occasionally changed details of her claims. Hundreds of Chinese netizens supported Fang’s campaign against the memoir, many of them leaving angry messages on the Amazon page for her book

Although she said that she was “shocked, heartbroken and deeply saddened by the smear campaign”, Fu later retracted some of the statements she had made to the media.

Fu, 55, also responded to critics that her book was an autobiography and that her memories could be wrong. She was backed by her publisher Portfolio, Penguin’s business book imprint.

Fu, a successful entrepreneur who has served on the US National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, published her memoir during the time she was appointed Chief Strategy Officer of 3D Systems earlier this year.

She declared that her story was of a life straddling two worlds in China and America, which she billed as “one person’s journey from nobody to somebody”.

“It reflects how my past experiences influenced who I am today and how I make decisions as an entrepreneur,” she wrote.

However her alma mater college Soochow University investigated the memoir by reviewing student records in their archives and interviewing her Fu’s teachers and classmates. They claim this investigation has confirmed facts that contradict details in the book – including records of her attendance at the university without earning a degree, records that she studied English as part of the curriculum, and that there was no enforcement of birth control measures on undergraduate students.

“This university ultimately concludes that Ping Fu’s relevant narrative in her memoir is factually inaccurate and has damaged the image of Soochow University,” said Soochow University. “(We) reserve the right to take further action.”


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This article is now closed to comments

In reply to robdingwall,
Dear robdingwall,
I appreciate very much for your honest comment.
I have a simple question for you,
Do you believe that Ping was finger checked by the school personnel while she was in SuZhou University as a student?
If you believe it, then do you believe this (in DID's report: ****rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/true-or-false-the-tussle-over-ping-fus-memoir/)
In the interview, she volunteered an example of an error: a widely criticized account of the ‘‘period police,’’ the authorities who checked a woman’s menstrual cycle to ensure she wasn’t pregnant in the early days of the one-child policy. To stop women substituting others’ sanitary pads for inspection, they were sometimes required to use their own finger to show blood. Through a misunderstanding with Ms. Fox, Ms. Fu said this was portrayed as the use of other people’s fingers — an invasion of the woman’s body.
Ms. Fox “wrote it wrong,’’ she said. ‘‘I corrected it three times but it didn’t get corrected.’’ Women used their own finger to show blood, she said, but the mistake went into print anyway.
In general, Ms. Fox may have ‘‘just made some searches on the Internet that maybe weren’t correct,’’ Ms. Fu said.
Chiefly the errors involved use of the words ‘‘all, never, any,’’ that generalized unacceptably, Ms. Fu said. And, ‘‘She doesn’t know China’s geography,’’ she said.
Ping Fu: I believe you 100%. I lived many years in China and know countless horror facts. I knew a Physics Professor at "one Guangzhou University" living indefinitely under close house arrest but expected to carry on his university work "as normal." The country is based on cruelty and mental torture; made to live under fear, and the population blanks this out of their consciousness. I'll buy your book in support of you, because these things MUST to made public. The Party's PR Show, that the outside world has fallen in love with, is just smokescreen. Please stay deaf to all hostile comments, attacks, and threats. Big Yawn: they're up to their usual tactics - so septic, that's all they know!!! Pity them. Millions know you speak the truth.
Nobody is denying there are horrible facts in China and atrocities in the Cultural Revolution, but these facts could not be used to prove Ping Fu's stories. If she claims she did not attend school for ten years, she should show her solid evidence. I am sorry you believe 100% of her stories because even Ping Fu herself has retracted many of her claims in the book, such as teacher quartered by four horses, Sun Yat-sen's adoption of her grandfather, her birthday as the same date of the Rape of Nanking Memorial Day, Red Maple Society, etc. So you want to believe even those lies she herself has admitted? There are more than those listed. Even her deportation story is being reworded by her. It is changed from "deported" to "expelled" to "moved." In the book she was kicked into mid air by a teenage before getting raped. You can try if you can kick a bag of 50 pounds of rice into air and then tell me you believe 100% of her stories. Her Red Guards drove around and had the modern communication technology. Do you believe that too?
Ms. Fu, I came across your article before and I find your life fascinating but full of question marks.
Can to elaborate as I simply refuse to believe your part of story.




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