One Child by Mei Fong is a closer look at China’s jihua shengyu, better known worldwide as the One Child Policy. Mei Fong is a former journalist for Time Magazine and has spent the past several years creating this book that provides a deeper look at the radical policy established in 1979, delving into its history and fallout.
Most of us have heard of the One Child policy due to its base stereotype, that couples in China are permitted a single child. That boys are preferred, girls and extra children are many times disposed of whether by choice, or by force.
The journalistic approach taken in One Child is on the surface informative as expected, but also incredibly touching. Fong details her research with interviews from her time living in China. Stories detailing class privilege, forced “child planning,” decreased fertility, human trafficking disguised as adoption, and cultural mindsets are harrowing, insightful, and inspiring. The biggest surprises for me were the consequences surrounding an aging Chinese population, and the impact when a family loses their only child. A nation could lose a whole generation.
Fong is sensitive, not victimizing anyone, but treating them and their stores with common decency. She takes a stance that there should be a standard for how humans treat one another. And she isn’t just an outsider. Fong details her own troubles conceiving a child, through IVR treatments that she was able to afford due to her station. She treats this issue as the World’s problem.
This book is excellent. I recommend One Child to those coming in with minimal to advanced background knowledge alike. I’ll warn you, there’s no definite solution in the end that tells the world how to proceed in the future. What this book does is shed light on a topic that is important, endearing, and misunderstood in popular culture.