In February of this year I analyzed the case of Anna Mae He with sympathy to the He family and hoped their return to
Half a year later, one day in August while I browsed the Chinese oversea students and immigrants forum, mitbbs.com, I was surprised to see a post that reprinted a report from wmctv.com, "Anna Mae He: Coming Home?" That Chinese post itself was titled "给挺贺绍强的爱国人士一记耳光" – A slap on the face of patriotic supporters of He Shaoqiang [Jack He]. Under the post were quite a few comments that derided Jack He's "shameless" behavior. (Now the link to that post no longer works.)
If memory serves me right, early this year when the He family was about to leave for
Still, at the time I regarded what Jack He was doing as an individual affair. Just as I thought my personal curiosity was waning on this subject, two weeks ago the Chinese Y-Weekend interview brought another twist to the case, in which Jack He categorically announced that "I definitely don't want to return to the
On the other hand, Jack He's criticism of Americans as "megalomaniacs" and "psychologically unbalanced" could easily resonate with many Chinese. "In their [Americans'] eyes," Jack He said, "
Two days after the Y-Weekend interview appeared, a journalist blog in
Meanwhile, on September 11th, Chinanews.com published a commentary titled "看美媒如何导演罗生门" or "Look How American Media Directed Rashomon", in which the commentator claims that, after reading the Y-Weekend interview, he found the wmctv video indeed had traces of editing and agenda setting. The article, in turn, echoed Jack He's accusation of how "American media" distorted the story and on purposely changed the complaint about an international school to the complaint about the country (
At this point it occurred to me, now that the media in two of the world's largest countries were running in circles painted by one man named Jack He, or He Shaoqiang, the case no longer belongs to the category of personal life style choice. Rather I wanted to know what was really going on, and who was reporting it correctly. I decided to contact Ann Marie Curling again in search for the truth.
And here is one of Ms. Curling's emails (quoted with permission) in response to my question whether it is true that Jack He was trying to bring his family back to the
Consequently, Ms. Curling forwarded me her email correspondences with Jack He, who wrote Ms. Curling 5 times between June 3rd and August 4th. In four of his emails Jack He requested Ms. Curling's help to return to
I must point out that Jack He did express his motivation as the concern of his American-born kids. In one of his emails, Jack He wrote: "My kids miss
However such genuineness was all lost when he lied to the Y-Weekend reporter by betraying his American sympathizers, including Brook Sanders and Ms. Curling. This way he effectively burned the bridge for his kids to return to the
Ms. Curling later wrote me again: "The more I think about this now (that you’ve brought it to my attention again) this guy is definitely a media hog. It just doesn’t make sense to me. How he would say that a reporter is mischaracterizing what he said when he was actively asking me to help him find work in the
Jack He's motivations for lying could be anything; it could be for media attention, or for saving face (as Mediaverse reasoned), or even for fear of practical or political consequences. But at this point I'm less interested in that than in how he has so easily fooled the media – apparently reporters in both countries had bought into his sincerity.
The answer seems: by combining lies and truth. When part of what he says rings true, we tend to believe in the entire thing and ignore the false part. We believe what we want. For Americans, and American reporters, it is obvious he should want to return. For Chinese, and Chinese reporters, it is obvious he should want to stay. What he really wants, who knows, but we should not give much credence to the words he says, much less tie his words to our feelings toward either country.