Many Americans who do not know much about China are puzzled by the outrage displayed by Chinese Americans against the lies of Ms Ping Fu in her book. These Americans are "naive to the point of cute", quoting one commenter on the Amazon website. They seem to think that as long as her message is against something evil, it is ok to lie. What they do not understand is that such lying is adding insult to the injury already suffered by the millions of Chinese. It makes it harder to promote democracy in China, and reinforces the image of American ignorance and arrogance.
Many of these Americans have accused critics of Ms Fu, including myself, as shills of the Chinese government. This angers me more than the lying by Ms Fu. It is a combination of MccArthyism and racism that any card-carrying liberal should be ashamed of. I have been a kossack for seven years and have a long track record of diaries from which you can judge whether I am a shill of anything. In fact, this kind of personal attack shows me that they have lost the argument.
In part II here, I will address the questions arising from Ms Fu's clarification to her story. Simply put, she is still lying.
In her clarification, she is walking back on essentially all the claims published on Forbes, NPR, Inc, and other media outlets, and putting the blames on "editorial" errors by these media outlets. She claims that the book does not contain most of these errors.
Here is a summary of her clarification:
1. She was never sent to a labor camp. She lived in a university dorm for 10 years, not a labor camp.
2. She was not a child labor, and did not work in a factory.
3. She was not deprived of an education. Instead, she studied nonstop.
4. She did not enter college in 1977, but entered in 1978. The college she entered was Jiangsu Teacher's College, which was renamed Suzhou University in 1982.
6. She did not witness the execution of a teacher.
7. She was gang-raped.
8. Her thesis on infanticide in China was never published.
9. The newspaper article on infanticide was not authored by her. She only read it. And she is not sure which newspaper it was.
10. She read about UN cutting funding to China while waiting for her passport.
11. She had been planning to attend graduate school in Nanjing to study comparative literature, but was able to because she was prevented from graduating from college.
12. She never studied English in college.
13. She was not a Red Guard. The photo was taken in front of a Red Guard flag at school.
Although she pretty much retracted most of her incredible story, she made more lies in these answers. I will focus on three of them, those highlighted above.
She read about UN cutting funding to China while waiting for her passport.
Her text of clarification:
A: I heard about the sanctions in China while awaiting my passport. I was told that the UN was unhappy about this issue. A quick web search shows that the American-based journalist Steven W. Mosher wrote about female infanticide in China in 1981. His book, called Broken Earth, was published in 1984 -- the same year I was waiting for my passport. Knowing this, it makes sense that I was asked to leave quietly. Anything else would have drawn more attention to the issue. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mosher successfully lobbied George W. Bush to cut UN funding for China. His story and the timeline are consistent with my experience.George W. Bush did not become president until 2001, by then Ping Fu was already a US citizen. Did GW travel back in time to cut UN funding for China in 1984?
In fact, the only thing that an US president can do is to withhold the US contribution to the UN agency, in this case UNFPA. The controversy regarding China's birth control program with UN was not over infanticide, but with forced abortion and coerced sterilization. Japan and EU decided to fill in the gap left by the US withholding the funds, so there was no impact on China's program. So neither the story nor the timeline are consistent with what Ms Fu is claiming.
She never studied English in college.
In college, English language classes were offered, but not required. I did not study English ever. I had "level zero" English, just like most Americans know a few words of Spanish or French. I tried to learn more English when I knew I was going to the U.S., but when I arrived, I only remembered a few.This is a blatant lie. English language class in Chinese colleges since 1978 has been mandatory for all freshmen and sophomores. In addition, one also has to pass English language test in order to be admitted for graduate school.
I originally had been planning to go to graduate school to study comparative literature in Nanjing, but that could not happen due to the circumstances.She could not make this plan if she did not study English.
She was not a Red Guard. The photo was taken in front of a Red Guard flag at school.
If you zoom into that picture, you only need to look closely to see I have no red band on my arm. The image was taken in front of a Red Guard flag at the school that I attended in the late 70s. I wrote in the book that the situation got better after 1972. Still, I was never a Red Guard.This is another lie. Look at the photo. She was proudly displaying her left arm, like all others in the front row of the photo. Because of the shadow, it is hard to see what is on her left arm. Notice everyone in the front row was wearing the armband. If she was the only person not wearing it, why would she put her arm forward like that to show it?
This was not at school either. This was a park in Nanjing. Notice the two towers in the background? It is this place, called Linggu Temple. It is believed to be the best Buddhist temple in the world, and is surrounded by a park. This picture was a picture of a field trip by the Red Guards.
There are other lies in her clarification. We may need more diaries to analyze them.
Continued in Part III.