A Chinese-born businesswoman’s harrowing tales of gang-rape and murder in the Cultural Revolution years have come under fire from web vigilantes who accuse her of duping impressionable US readers.
Ping Fu, who went on to found US technology firm Geomagic and sits on a White House panel on innovation, has described dreadful experiences in her rags-to-riches autobiography “Bend, Not Break” and media interviews.
Born in 1958, Fu said she was gang-raped and forced into child labour in a factory, and that on one occasion the Maoist Red Guards dismembered a teacher with four horses pulling on each limb to terrify her and other children.
She was jailed in the early 1980s for writing a university thesis on female infanticide due to the one-child policy, she said, only for paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to intervene. The book says she was later “quietly deported”.
She has admitted to some exaggeration in the book but has blamed that on a faulty memory or intervention by her editors, insisting her memoirs are not a fabrication and accusing her Chinese critics of waging a “smear campaign”.
But her chief attacker Fang Zhouzi, a prominent blogger known for hunting down celebrity lies, says he will stay on the offensive.
Fu told a US radio station last month that she personally witnessed the killings of hundreds of baby girls, and drew official ire for exposing this in her thesis.
Fang says it is incredible that she could have seen so much infanticide, and says that if Deng had intervened on her behalf when she was jailed, nobody would have dared to expel her from the country.
He has also dismissed her account of the teacher’s equine quartering as “easy to tell but hard to conduct”, adding in an email to AFP: “I will continue to write” about her.
Fang suggested that Fu — who uses a Western word order for her name — invented the stories to enlist sympathy from US officialdom and build a grittier image of survival to embellish her credentials in the business world.
A decade after leaving China, Fu became a naturalised citizen in 1992 and was given an “Outstanding American by Choice” award by the US government last year.
In its citation, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency said she “was imprisoned during college for her research into China’s history of infanticide”.
But a Chinese teacher who was on the same university course as Fu said that if she had been jailed for her thesis, none of their fellows was aware of it.
Fu responded to some of Fang’s accusations in her blog on huffingtonpost.com, blaming media misinterpretations and a typo in her book for any misunderstanding.
But she admitted that Fang’s analysis of the dismemberment-by-horse was “more rational and accurate” than her “emotional” memory.
In interviews, she has said that the word “deport” was not in her manuscript but suggested by her editors to “attract readers”, and that “we could say that was a literary interpretation”.
But on Twitter, Fu described one of Fang’s exposes as “full of errors”. “He should fact-check,” she added, while promising to “correct and rectify imperfection” in the book’s next printing.