One Child Nation



One Child Nation-  amazon

In 1979, the Chinese government came to the conclusion that if they did not make some radical changes, the next generation’s population would grow enormously. 

They believed that the population would be in the billions and would lead to widespread starvation and be very difficult to manage. Therefore the Chinese government instituted a mandatory one child policy, which was widely publicized and became the “patriotic approach” expected from every Chinese family. Those who disobeyed this dictum and had a second child would be severely punished sometimes by having their home destroyed. Midwives not only performed numerous sterilization procedures and abortions but also at times had to kill newborns who were second children. This policy continued for 25 years before it was finally changed allowing a second child.

Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang directed this documentary film. Much of it was in Chinese with subtitles. It captures and personalizes the impact of this all encompassing social policy. Through interviews with various Chinese people, the viewer can appreciate the very personal meaning of being deprived of the ability to have a second child if one wanted one. Family dynamics are examined especially in some settings where there might be a desire to have a boy and the first child was a girl. The newborn and the very young were abandoned in the streets. There was human trafficking where children were sold to adoption agencies. Many of these children were internationally adopted and ended up in American homes where the adopted parents were not told the true story of their newly adopted child. There also is the story of the search by adopted Chinese children growing up in America who might be interested in finding their birth families.

This film deals with these complicated issues, which have political, social, as well as emotional implications. You come away from this documentary film educated and also moved by the human implications of what you have seen and experienced. (2019)


As always your comments are welcome below:



Category: 3 Stars, Documentary, Foreign, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , One comment »

One Response to “One Child Nation”

  1. Seena Sharp

    We thought this documentary deserved 5 stars. It was a powerful, informative, and revealing presentation of unintended consequences. While limiting the population to a single child appeared to be THE government’s solution to unmanageable population growth, the way the Chinese government dealt with second or subsequent children was cruel.

    This movie is more engaging than one might expect from a documentary, as it was comprised of numerous stories, and commentary from the people who had to carry out the government’s orders. The author (or director) makes this a very personal story, as she comes from the highlighted village, enabling her to uncover far more details from the very people impacted by this policy.

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