• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 11:09pm

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

When I read the episode around page 70 in which she described how she turned down an offer from Lane Sharman, which would make her a multimillionaire, to pursue her higher goals, I was rather amazed as most poor students would jump at such an offer. It turned out that Lane Sharman never sold his company to AT&T and he even wished he could make that much money; so Ping Fu simply made up the story to glorify herself.
Another interesting thing is on pages 66-71 there was no mention of her first short-lived marriage with Richard Lynn Ewald through whom she got her green card before divorcing him during this period of her life. Why did she want to hide this first marriage which was a significant part of her American life? In the 2005 Inc. article, which John Brant wrote after interviewing Ping Fu for three days, she was said to feel frozen inside, have no intimate friends, and allow no man to get close to her. In her Chinese memoir, she said she was an old spinster at the age of 30. Yet throughout this period she was actually married to Richard! Does this sound a marriage based on love or marriage for green card?
Gang rape did happen in China, but not to Ping Fu, not the way Ms. Ping Fu described:
- under broad daylight,
- on a soccer field where many people around,
- when she (a ten year old) was unconscious,
- especially not the way she described that she was kicked up flying by a teenager and fell on a steel tipped boot in a hot summer afternoon...
--- Do you know how hot Nanjing is in Summer? It is like Phoenix, AZ. How could a teenager worn steel tipped boots in that weather?
--- Do you know how hard for a teenage boy to kick up a 10 years old flying? A ten years old girl usually weighs over 50 lb. Buy yourself a bag of 50 lb rice, try to kick it up flying yourself.... In movies, people were kicked flying, but in reality, it is almost impossible...
- If this gang rape really happened, some one would have reported to authority and the boys would have been punished.
--- Do you know how Chinese communists controlled over people to the point of smothering during Cultural Revolution? Because they made people report on each other. If one did not report to authority after seeing a possible crime, this person will be punished along with the criminal after being found. Rape was punished by death sentence. It is just unbelievable that no one reported such a crime after Ms. Fu was taken to clinic and was sewed for 40 stitched.
Making up a story of being raped especially makes me angry....This Ping Fu's fabricated story is insulting the real victims
Ping Fu's Chinese memoir gives a completely different picture of her life from her English memoir:
- She lived with and was well loved by her birth parents in Nanjing when she was little.
- She went to school and got education when she was a young girl, as she described how she wrote composition "My Dreams" in school and what her real dream that she told her parents at home.
- She came to America for her own dreams, but was deeply disappointed.
- In China she lived a good life as a daughter of a professor. But in America she suffered so much that her heart was bleeding, after she did house cleaning work for a Jewish family.
- On the third day upon her arrival to America, she was having a fancy dinner with her first boyfriend, which means the story of being kidnapped and locked up for 3 days upon arrival to America did not happen.
- She described her first boyfriend praised her body sexy, but did not mention her scars as a result of gang-rape.
- She dated two guys the same time when she was at UNM.
- She learned dishonest business practice from her boss Lane Sharman in San Diego.
- She and her second ex-husband Herbert fell in love while he was married and his wife was pregnant.
- She bought a thin long whip from a red light district.
Thee are a lot more differences between her English and Chinese memoirs, too long to list them all here.
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?
Ping Fu claimed her graduate school study at University of New Mexico:
On page 61 in Bend, Not Break, Ping Fu stated that “After completing the English as a foreign language course in a year, I was able to pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and enroll as a full-time graduate student at UNM.”
Page 66 in Bend, Not Break: Less than a year away from completing my master’s degree in computer science, I dropped out of the University of New Mexico.
FOIA Request for records of Ms. Ping Fu’s Claimed Graduate Study.
From: Judi Halpern
Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 5:19 PM
To: Albert Wang
Subject: RE: Ping Fu, a student enrolled at The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, from September 1984 to July 1986
Mr. Wang,
This is what I can tell you we have a student by the name of Ping Fu with a birth year of 1958. This student attended the University of New Mexico as an undergraduate student. The student was a transfer student who started as a junior in the Fall 1984. The student attended UNM up to the Summer 1986. I find no evidence that the student graduated with a bachelor or any other degree from UNM. I have no evidence that the student transferred to UC San Diego. You will need to confirm that with them.
If you have further questions, please let me know.
Good Day,
Judi Halpern
Grade Petition Coordinator/
Athletic Admissions Specialist
University of New Mexico
Records & Registration
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?
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.
Except from Bend Not Break, pages 148-149:
"When my colleagues and I had finished making our first piece of metal mirror smooth, I caught sight in it of a perfect reflection of my face. We didn't have mirrors at home or around the dormitory -- Mao's Communism discouraged concern with one's physical appearance. This was the first reflection of myself that I had seen in a mirror in years. I was surprised that I looked all grown up. I recalled the well in the courtyard of my Shanghai family's home where I had gazed at myself before I was taken away. ... an unfinished child who had transformed into a proud and capable worker as an adult"
When I read this part, I had to stop, I could not stand it. She claimed she was taken away from Shanghai at 8 years old, now she is 18, for 10 years she did not take a look of her own face. Wow!
I don't want to argue that why she couldn't afford a mirror but she had a bike (In her book, Ping Fu wrote that she had a bike. Back then in China owning a bike is like owning a BMW car in America today, but a small mirror only cost a few cents). Just look at the photos in this book. There are three photos being taken between her 8 to 18 years old. How could she not see her own face for 10 years?!
Many people have already read or heard that she did not go to school from ages 8 to 18. Here she wrote that she even did not see her own face in the same 10 years. Do you believe that?
Excerpts from Ping Fu's Bend Not Break, pages 60-61 :
[Santa Fe was an artistic city, and many Hollywood stars had second homes there. Linda Evans, John Wayne, and Miles Davis all came to our restaurant. I didn't know who any of these people were, so my boss often assigned me to wait on them, knowing that I wouldn't get star struck or ask for autographs.
One night, a large, muscular man with dark hair and an asymmetrical face came into our restaurant. The boss told me to serve him.
I approached the table. "What would you like to drink?" I asked.
The man said nothing, but startled me by reaching around and grabbing my rear end with his enormous right hand. Without hesitating for a second, I slapped him on the cheek, hard. Then I gasped. What had I done? Surely the boss would fire me for such insolent behavior.
The man sat quietly for a heartbeat, staring me straight in the eyes. Then he laughed and said: "Do it again".
I raced back to the kitchen, still convinced, with my Chinese mentality, that I would lose my job. But everyone who had witnessed the event was cheering. "Ping, you slapped Rambo!" they squealed with delight. Even the boss, who had followed me to the back room, was chuckling. The customer, they told me, was Sylvester Stallone, a famous action hero.]
John Wayne died in 1979, 5 years before Ping Fu arrived in US. Stallone isn't "a large, muscular man with dark hair and an asymmetrical face". He doesn't have "enormous right hand" either. Fabricated!
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.
Regardless if Ping Fu dares to confront her alma mater, one thing for sure: Her lie is officially exposed to public, it is up to those who were fooled to respond.
When PIng Fu was paid to tell her fake stories, she probably did not prepare to return the money, Now that the fact is out the lie is broken, those sponsors of her speeches may even sue her for wasting their times.
Did you just come Mars with all your fact checks on this victim of Chinese tyranny and her transmogrification into an American heroine?
Demonizing China for fun and profit is good media business in English-speaking countries and Hong Kong. As one of my correspondents protested vehemently, "Why do you lie there was no killing in Tiananmen when New York Times says it is true?
What's wrong with free market capitalism? Don't you read Apple Daily, our city's best newspaper? Their facts and stories are more popular than all others in this town.
Everyone is entitled to their facts, not to mention opinions in a democracy. Why are you so vehement against free speech, where every illiterate, moron is given equal weight for his stories, let alone Ping Fu, a victim icon of Chinese repression.
Why do you insist on confusing us with facts in this pluralistic society, where free people are allowed to indulge in their own ignorance, superstition, fads, facts and fantasies?
You should put your savior complex in check. Leave us alone and let us get on with our Occupy Central demonstration and other hate passion slogans: Death to China! Death to CCP! Death to mainlanders!
Don't you see sarcasm? I believe Whymak said it all. The general public knows very well what a liar is like, just the response is different. When someone is avoiding confrontation of accusation, you know what the someone is afraid of.

Our generation (45-60) is completely lost and beyond cure - we are the disastrous generation misled in the 1980s (when China stopped playing any form of team sports completely...). Ms. Ping (or Ms. Fu) is not the only one fabricating her "cultural revolution stories". We should focus on saving the next generation...before they also turn out to be disasters!
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.


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