"One Child Nation" and China's Iron Grip

A documentary that outlines the fallout from the One Child Policy.
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Since I'm an Amazon Prime member, I exclusively stream with Prime Video (an Amazon service I would rate above average compared to other streaming services). I watch enough content that I often time run out of new movies and TV shows to watch. One day, the service recommended One Child Nation, a documentary with 99% on RottenTomatoes. I figured that since I already knew everything about China's One Child Policy, I would start the documentary while multitasking other tasks. But I was wrong. The documentary quickly caught my interest and I found my full attention to watching the documentary. There was so much more to the One Child Policy that I never considered:

  • The extreme steps taken to enforce the One Child Policy
  • How the One Child Policy affected the "executioners"?
  • How aborted fetuses are handled?
  • The abandoned/sold infants
  • Even after the One Child Policy ended, how few people wanted to discuss the topic


Enforcing the One Child Policy

Though the rules were created by the Chinese government, the actual enforcement was handled by the local government. I wasn't surprised by the propaganda via "commercials", as that happens even today. But what caught my attention were the example where slogans were painted on the walls reminding the Chinese not to have more than one child. How it was bad. A river of blood. I can't read Chinese, but the translated English sounded very brutal to be printed out in plain sight. I felt like an old school way of how people were controlled in the dystopian world in the book/movie 1984.

How One Child Policy affects the "executioners"

One nurse called referred to herself as an "executioner". She was strong enough to stand up in this documentary and say that despite the fact she as just doing her job, it affected how she saw herself. She eventually changed her role and began helping those who were struggling to have children. Instead of taking lives like she did when she didn't have a choice, she is giving life in hopes that it reverses the damage previously done.

How Aborted Fetuses are Handled

This part of the documentary is what caught my attention the most. The pictures of fetuses in hospital plastic bags just in the dumps along with other random trash. I honestly don't know it's handled in the US (both now and in the past), but there must be a better way to handle abortions. I personally don't take a stand one way or another on abortions, but there should be a humane way to handle it. But to later sterilize is extreme.

Abandoned and Sold Infants

This is also an outcome of the One Child Policy that probably wasn't thought through as part of the program. But children were being abandoned on the side of the road. One couple would spend the evenings walking the streets in search of abandoned infants so they could brought to local shelters. The shelters eventually started offering money for turned in babies. Apparently, the shelter was then selling the babies to foster parents in the United States (and I'm sure other countries). The documentary interviews a couple who eventually got jailed, since the process was illegal. Their lives, even though they thought they were doing good, were ruined.

Little Dialog

Even after One Child Policy was abandoned, I'm also surprised that the old generation Chinese are not interested to discuss the topic. In some ways, their attitude was that discussing the topic would cause trouble for the interviewers family and that would be disrespectful. In my opinion, there is some feeling of fear of repercussions from the Chinese government, even after the entire ordeal has ended.

Final Thoughts

So the One Child Policy was much more than simply only having one child. A lot that is lost or forgotten is how the policy has negatively affected the lives of so many people. If you haven't seen this documentary, it was well put together. There is a lot of Chinese speaking with English subtitles, which is understandable. The best part is of the twins that were separated. One part that this documentary focuses on is the the people living in the countryside. Not much of the interviewing happens in large cities like Beijing or Shanghai.

After watching the documentary One Child Nation, there are other great eye opening reads:

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