Exploring China's One-Child Policy

China's one-child policy didn't happen overnight — it was normalized through propaganda, and serves as a warning against countries trying to control reproductive rights.

New perspective on the recent reversal of the policy

Filmmaker Nanfu Wang went through a personal journey while making her documentary One Child Nation. China’s one-child policy started in 1979 with the goal of controlling population. It was when she became a mother that Wang decided to revisit the controversial policy she grew up with in rural China. Her own parents had two children, since the law made an exception for families living in rural areas, as long as the children were at least five years apart — but not until after her mother narrowly escaped involuntary sterilization. Many other women were not so lucky. The policy’s mental, physical, and emotional toll on the country, especially its women, was tremendous.

Two months after Nanfu Wang gave birth to her first child, she was planning to fly back to the the Jiangxi province of China where she had grown up to see her family. Of course, it would be a chance to show the baby off to her family, but the visit wasn’t entirely personal. Her pregnancy, coinciding with the relatively recent reversal of China’s “One Child Policy,” which had forced generations of Chinese families to restrict the number of children they had, had gotten her to think about the devastating impact that such a law had across the country and in her own home.

While Wang was concerned whether she could ever return after her explosive debut “Hooligan Sparrow” implicated government officials in a cover-up when following the activist Ye Haiyan as she brought attention to the sexual abuse of a group of elementary school girls at the hands of their principal, motherhood had given her new perspective in a variety of ways, including how wearing a Baby Bjorn might give her cover. As part of the film, Wang conducted interviews with medical professionals’ smugglers politicians and members of her own family in an attempt to uncover the psychology of the one-child policy and its lasting impact.


08/22/2019 10:19 AM


  • Pen R.
    08/22/2020 22:24

    When the Nation preferred boys over girls they didn't stop to think what was going to happen in 20 years . now the population is so far out of balance because little girls were destroyed they were put in orphanages they were sent to other countries to be adopted . They're discovering now there are no girls for the boys to marry . They're having to look elsewhere for a wife this is what happens when you try to do population control and don't see the whole picture .

  • Jodie L.
    08/02/2020 22:17

    So she talks about the pain of a woman forced to do abortions and the woman who this happened to then says woman should be allowed to have abortion? That makes zero sense! Legalizing abortions allows sex trafficking to continue because they can force abortions. Minorities are encouraged to abort their children and do at a much higher rate. Woman in abusive marriages are forced to have an abortion. In fact 99% of cases of abortion the woman feels pressure from their partner or their environment to get an abortion. That is not a choice! It sounds more like the horror those woman went through then anything else! This woman clearly hanging on to communist beliefs is she can’t see legal abortion hurts woman and woman are forced to have an abortion all the time the difference is that it’s legal and encouraged here in the US!

  • Shanice M.
    07/30/2020 16:47

    I was forced me as a married woman, to take depo and was never able to have other kids😥😥😥🇿🇦

  • Elizabeth B.
    07/30/2020 00:40

    Why are they always sterilizing women, isn't it easier for men. Not that I'm for anyone being forced to do any unwanted procedure.

  • Ellora S.
    07/29/2020 20:06

    Overpopulation? Heard of it? I am from India and we could definitely do with some population control. If you don't stay in an overly populated country you do NOT know how hard it is for everyone.

  • Adriana D.
    07/29/2020 12:47

    But.... I don’t know, I mean we see this and we actually been hearing this for years, but I met a girl few years ago, she is from Shangai and she was in Panama for work, and she have 5 sisters, all around my age (and herself i think) so that would be 1985-1999 for all of them... I never dared to ask about this “rumor” but.. how’s that possible then? 🤔

  • Ahamed S.
    07/28/2020 09:13

    When you have multiple childrenbyou say It's overpopulation. When when you got one child policy you say It's inhuman. The whole world is hypocrite.

  • Mky M.
    07/24/2020 17:49

    Fake Karen:))

  • Anita C.
    07/24/2020 15:29

    This is not news. Heard about this over the years.

  • Sanj T.
    07/24/2020 11:30

    It's a good policy....less people on earth the better for the environment

  • Suman R.
    07/23/2020 13:43

    There is nothing so very difficult about population planning. Keep it strictly democratic and voluntary . With hefty rewards for postponing birth of first child as if at all having the second with a big gap. For sterilisation of the woman without a child give a guaranteed lifelong pension, free Medicare and hospice. For sterilisation of the woman after one child a somewhat lower reward. For sterilisation after two children a small reward. If a third child is born the parents can't stand for elections. And can't get a government job. Or may have reduced retirement benefits. Or may be denied promotion. Contraceptives should be free and given to every couple as a part of the marriage rituals. Girl children should have gift deposited into an account. And free lifelong education must be given. Childless should not be stigmatized. Widespread propaganda must be done on all media. Obviously this plan does not apply to adopted children. Or to surrogacy. If the person is willing to forgo rewards and take the simple penalties he she can go on proliferating like rabbits! But others will not be able to respect such people much. We are not living in an unthinking age. What happens in polygamous (at a time and over time) relationships? Not simple to answer. It needs deep thinking.

  • Candy R.
    07/20/2020 08:12

    That’s why lots of babies girl died and children are raised like emperors. Now chinese population has too many old people and not enough young people . In addition men struggle to find wives

  • April P.
    07/19/2020 23:12

    What happen if the mother had twins??

  • Nora .
    07/19/2020 04:11

    Glad that she brings up women’s reproductive rights.

  • Carmen R.
    07/11/2020 22:43

    There was no population crisis.

  • Ripi J.
    07/10/2020 18:52

    God will take the world back

  • Jan U.
    07/09/2020 05:45

    If you want to read detailed stories about these women, check out Xinran's "Message From An Unknown Chinese Mother"

  • Keri A.
    07/07/2020 17:11

    Who can afford to have more than 1 child these days anyway? 1-3 is common but huge families aren’t being made like they used to

  • Marion C.
    07/07/2020 02:21

    I seen loads of families with 2 kids when I was in China

  • Lynn W.
    06/29/2020 16:48

    Wow. China had an oppressed system like this. I heard of it before when I was young but I didn’t really think about it or the consequences.

Stay informed and entertained, for free with myBrut.

Stay informed and entertained, for free with myBrut.

By continuing, you agree to receive emails from Brut.