One Child

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Pages: 272
Subject: Politics, Current Affairs
Imprint: Oneworld

One Child

Life, Love and Parenthood in Modern China

Mei Fong

An extraordinary, evocative investigation into the legacy of the controversial one-child policy across all of Chinese society
9781786070562 (2 Feb 2017)
RRP £9.99

The Book

Tang Shuxiu and her husband are on an 800-mile train journey from Beijing to Shifang, where they believe their only child has perished in a recent earthquake. Three days after the event, Tang is too dehydrated to cry.

Liu Ting becomes a national hero when he brings his mother to college, a celebration of filial piety in a nation that now legally compels adult children to visit their elderly parents.

Tian Qingeng and his parents are deeply in debt. They have bought an apartment they hope will improve his eligibility in a nation that has 30 million bachelors, or ‘bare branches'.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mei Fong has spent eight years documenting the effects of the one-child policy across all of Chinese society. In this critically acclaimed account, she weaves together personal stories, history and politics to produce an extraordinary, evocative investigation into how the policy has changed China and why the repercussions will be felt across the world for decades to come.

Additional Information

Subject Politics, Current Affairs
Pages 272
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Mei Fong is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who spent over a decade reporting in Asia, most notably as China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. She is a winner of Amnesty's Human Rights Press Award.


‘A deeply moving account of a policy of that looks set to haunt China (and the world) for decades: Fong highlights how, despite its relaxation to two children, the repercussions of the past thirty-five years will only be felt more acutely in the future.'

- Independent

‘Vivid and thoroughly researched...a moving and at times harrowing account of the significance of decisions taken by a small coterie of men with too much faith in science and ideology, and too little in humanity.'

- Observer

'An interesting and intriguing read'. 

- Press Association

'Welcome bits of new information'.

- Literary Review

'A…moving history of the policy…fascinating…Fong, a Singaporean Chinese living in Beijing…adds a fine human touch'.

- Telegraph

'Outside China, there are still vocal admirers of the one-child policy. Perhaps after reading this book and doing the sums they won't be such strident supporters'.

- The Herald

'Fong's moral outrage is as understandable as her empathy is affecting…One Child draws thoughtful attention to the ethical and moral risks of regulating human reproductive rights'.

- Asian Review of Books

'Combines tough, broad economic analysis with individual stories'.

- Economist

'Mei Fong has travelled widely across China, and has produced a vivid account of the multifarious ways whereby a hugely unpopular policy was implemented...One Child is a timely reminder of how the recent relaxation of the policy is unlikely to avert a self-inflicted demographic disaster'.

- Sunday Times

'There really could be no one better than Fong, a western journalist with an insider's knowledge of China, to make this story come alive'.

- Times

'Gripping, balanced and well-documented'.

- Spectator

‘With its vivid character portrayals and incredible stories, One Child is an eye-opening book.'

- Xinran Xue, author of The Good Women of China and Buy Me the Sky: The Remarkable Truth of China’s One-Child Generations

Fong's moving and highly personal account of the one-child policy will teach you more about the dysfunction and cruelty of modern-day China than any other.'

- Barbara Demick, author of Nothing to Envy

‘One Child is a riveting read, written with the flair and compassion of a novel. But it is also a critically important book about the future of China, necessary reading both for policy experts and anyone interested in the future of one of the most important nations of the 21st century.'

- Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business

‘Eye-opening, powerful and utterly gripping, One Child had me hooked from page one. Mei Fong possesses a rare eye for the details that truly illuminate a story, the ones that most of us overlook. She writes beautifully and vividly, revealing sides of China I'd never imagined to exist.'

- Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Triple Package

‘A highly impressive account of one of the controversial aspects of today's China combining policy analysis, extensive on-the-ground reporting and personal experience.'

- Jonathan Fenby, author of The Penguin History of Modern China and Tiger Head, Snake Tails

‘Reveals the dark underbelly of China's one-child policy... its implementation led to heartache, human rights abuses and forced coercion of women across the country.'

- Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking

One Child is a timely and informative look into China's infamous effort to control its enormous population. But Mei Fong has also given us a wry, bittersweet, and often very personal look at how courtship, marriage, birth, and death interact in the post-Mao Chinese family. A lovely antidote to decades of chillingly cold Party-speak from Beijing.'

- Orville Schell, author of Wealth and Power

‘[One Child] must change the way we talk about China's rise... It not only clarifies facts and retires myths, but also confronts the deepest questions about the meaning of parenthood.'

- Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition

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