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One Child

Life, Love and Parenthood in Modern China

Mei Fong

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.

  • Publication date: February 2, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781786070562
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 272


‘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.’


‘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.’


'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'.


'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'.


'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'.


'Gripping, balanced and well-documented'.


‘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

Mei Fong

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