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‘A Tale of Two (real and fictional) Girls’


Thanks to the global boom with social media, Ti-Anna Wang is hopeful she is making a deeper impact in sharing the story of her activist father who was imprisoned in China 10 years ago.

Through Facebook, Wang last week spread the word about President Obama’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California, prompting her friends to write directly to their representatives in Congress to call for the release of her father.

“If people hear more stories like ours, you can start imagining what human rights abuse really looks like,” Wang told msnbc on Wednesday during an exclusive greenroom interview.

Social media is a tool that wasn’t available 10 years ago when Wang and her family began their campaign to free Dr. Wang Bingzhang.

The elder Wang, who is now in his 60s, gave up a promising career in medicine to devote his life to the democratic transformation of China. While dining with two fellow labor activists at a restaurant in Vietnam in 2002, Wang and his colleagues were abducted by several men who spoke Chinese. He was held incommunicado for six months, had a one-day trial, and was charged with espionage and terrorism.

Wang is the inspiration for author Fred Hiatt’s new novel, Nine Days, which follows the fictional Ti-Anna Chen and her American friend on their nine-day adventure to find her kidnapped father.

“It is very much inspiration because the fictional Ti-Anna is so courageous and so fearless that she has become a source of inspiration for me,” Wang said. “In times when I don’t know what to do or I’m not sure, I think, ‘What would the fictional Ti-Anna do?’ “

Wang postponed entering college in 2008 to advocate in Washington, D.C., to travel the world, and to speak to the media, policymakers, and government officials about Chinese political prisoners. Sometimes her efforts prove difficult, she said, because there has been a lack of progress and change in her father’s case.

But the book, which concentrates on injustices, hope, determination, and resilience in the face of adversity, is a new approach to the conversation about human rights.

“I certainly don’t want to have any regrets either,” she said, “which is why I’m doing things like this because I don’t want to look back on it later and think that I didn’t do enough.”

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Watch Wang’s Morning Joe interview: