China

'One Child Nation' Exposes the Tragic Consequences of Chinese Population Control

Documentary filmmaker Nanfu Wang on the horrors of China’s one-child policy

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Imposed in 1979, China's one-child policy devastated generations of families. Countless children were abducted or killed, women were subjected to forced abortions and sterilizations, and millions of girls disappeared before the Communist Party finally ended the policy in 2015.

In the documentary One Child Nation, out now in select theaters and later this year on Amazon, director Nanfu Wang revisits her experience growing up in rural China in the late 1980s and '90s. The film is both a deeply personal portrait of family life under the one-child regime and a searing exposé of its draconian horrors.

One Child Nation won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival and has earned rave reviews from critics. In it, Wang interviews both the victims and the officials responsible for enforcing the one-child policy, revealing the true devastation it wrought on all Chinese citizens, including her own family.

Wang sat down with Reason's Justin Monticello to go behind the scenes and delve deeper into some of the revelations contained in her highly-anticipated film.

Produced by Justin Monticello. Cameras by Paul Detrick and John Osterhoudt. Music by Silent Partner.

Image credits:

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Peng Zhaozhi Xinhua News Agency/Newscom

One Child Nation/Courtesy Amazon Studios

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  1. Oh, wait. Total government control of every aspect of life is a bad thing?
    Tell that to the democrats. But then, they won’t go to the movie.

    1. The people who like intrusive government will have a myopic view when watching this film: they’ll simply focus on China and its implementation. Western governments will do it better, after all!

      1. Funny he w the people who loathe American Exceptionalism count on it to make policies work here that have failed everywhere else.

      2. The arrogant liberals will always claim that but in light of the looming financial disasters of SS and Medicare, the VA, why does anyone still believe them?

    2. True population control has never attempted

    3. Tell that to the democrats.

      And to the Authoritarian Right, especially its Christian Taliban.

      Left – Right = Zero

  2. I’m glad that climate change was brought up in relation to population control. There is a non-trivial amount of people who advocate for couples to not reproduce. If this were merely harmless persuasion, then that would be fine, but considering the extreme measures that have been proposed to militate against climate change, I’m worried people will proposition governments to install horrific laws.
    The ends never justify the means when the methods violate the natural rights and freedoms of individuals.

    1. Except, that is, in the eyes of MANY commentators here, if said individuals wish to travel across invisible lines in the sands, as have been arbitrarily defined by The Sacred Collective Hive(s)!

      1. Because occupying the jurisdiction of a foreign government without their permission is a natural right, just like medical care, right you decrepit old piece of shit? You’re going to die under a Trump administration, Hihn. Goddamn is that funny.

        1. We’re ALL going to die if we keep on electing the likes of Trump! Prepare for nuclear WW III! Trump has commented about, what good are nukes, if we never use them?

          https://allthingsnuclear.org/dwright/trump-serious-about-arms-control

          1. Joke’s on you Hihn we’re already dead from when Reagan started WWIII.

            1. The fear from the democrats is rather ironic. Democrats got us into WWI, WWII, N. Korea, Vietnam. Trump has so far been anti military intervention.

          2. I think it’s cute that you still take Trump at his word. He throws verbal hand grenades while his actions are much more moderate – classic negotiating tactic.

            1. How many crazy-ass dumbfucks here believe there is only one libertarian on earth, and his name is Hihn?

              Beware the robotic minds of the Authoritarian Right.
              Sieg Heil!

    2. Having no children gives them extra time to tell others how they should live.

    3. The answer to that is, of course, “If you’re so worried about overpopulation, why don’t you drop dead?”

    4. There is a non-trivial amount of people who advocate for couples to not reproduce. If this were merely harmless persuasion, then that would be fine, but considering the extreme measures that have been proposed to militate against climate change, I’m worried people will proposition governments to install horrific laws.

      Ron Bailey writes a couple articles a month for reason deepthroating Cass Sunstein’s ‘libertarian paternalism’ including things like mass sterilization with licenses required to reproduce.

    5. The ends never justify the means when the methods violate the natural rights and freedoms of individuals.

      False.

      1. Seriously? So Ben Franklin was wrong?

        1. Only to illiterate righties.

  3. Great! What this world needs is to inject a nuclear-capable China with another wave of population-exploding, doctor-killing, religious fanatics exporting superstition to snowball into another Taeping revolt. Government schoolteachers do not allow mention of that into history classes, but the Opium Wars were small potatoes compared to the Taeping revolt they enabled.

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  5. I’m glad that climate change was brought up in relation to population control. There is a non-trivial amount of people who advocate for couples to not reproduce.

    trimeriai

  6. Religious fanatics baffled by exponential functions–or expecting the Rapture to raise them on a host of angels–put together the ZPG propaganda movie in 1972. With Charlton Heston subtlety, it dissed the likes of Isaac Asimov and urged a return to Comstock Law bans on birth control. The econazi movement seeking to ban electric power, strangle production and tax air was the inevitable result.

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  9. Last trimester abortion is worse than this.

  10. Didn’t reason publish an article in support of no kids. Most of those people will never pay their own way. Kids you know keep the world going. It’s a destructive personal decision. Yours to make but to laud it?

  11. Plague Then Thirst

    The entire, most recent issue of American Scientist addresses fresh-water. According to the articles, during the next thirty years, much of the world will face severe “water distress” including all of the USA — even Florida. The unstated reason is over-population. Over-population will fell the human species. We will populate ourselves into a mass extinction.

    Not to worry! Probably, before the full, negative strain of the shortage of fresh water is felt, a global plague will cause a mass, human extinction.

    “The single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on the planet is the virus.” -Joshua Lederberg, PhD (1925-2008)

    Excerpt from the novel, Retribution Fever:

    The dry sand of desert already had engulfed much of an Africa ravaged by human avarice, incompetence, and indifference. It continued creeping southwards like a predatory monster towards newly-discovered, all-too-willing prey. Dry, lethal desert was swallowing the moist, living land; excreting lifeless sand as its waste.
    No water? Thirst. No food? Hunger. No services? Sickness.

    “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” -Galatians VI:7

    1. Given current trajectories, we’re not REALLY going to have a massive overpopulation problem. But it is true that the fewer people the “easier” living is. If you want X number of people to live in a region that has modest rain, you might be able to do that without any major infrastructure. Just pump it from wherever is handy locally. If you want 5X people living there, maybe you need to build massive reservoirs locally, etc. If you want 10X perhaps you have to build a 2,000 mile long aqueduct system.

      This is in fact one of the reasons I’m not keen on cramming shit tons more people into the USA. We conquered this land fair and square back in the day, and we have it REALLY good in terms of resources per capita… This is a large part of why Americans lives are so nice. If we had 1 billion people living here, it would suck balls.

  12. So where is the pro-choice left on this, or is there only one choice that matters?

  13. One of the things that always amazes me about totalitarian regimes is how fucking dumb they can be. Anybody with a brain could see that a 1 child policy was RETARDED.

    If you have absolute power, they could have done things so much better. For instance had a sliding scale where the wealthy/smart/successful were allowed as many kids as they wanted, which would have tweaked the numbers towards more high achievers vs those who needed subsidies, tapering it down to 1 for blow it cases.

    They could have set the number at 2 children across the board… Because staying flat is a lot better than the outright decline they have created… Anybody with a brain should have realized this up front.

    Etc etc etc. I don’t even want to be a ruthless dictator, but so help me I’d do such a better job than these hacks that actually are.

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