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One Child

The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment

Mei Fong

For over three decades, China exercised unprecedented control over the reproductive habits of its billion citizens. Now, with its economy faltering just as it seemed poised to become the largest in the world, the Chinese government has brought an end to its one-child policy. It may once have seemed a shortcut to riches, but it has had a profound effect on society in modern China.

Combining personal portraits of families affected by the policy with a nuanced account of China’s descent towards economic and societal turmoil, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mei Fong reveals the true cost of this most controversial of policies. Drawing on eight years spent documenting its repercussions, she reveals a dystopian legacy of second children refused documentation by the state, only children supporting their parents and grandparents, and villages filled with ineligible bachelors. An exceptional piece of on-the-ground journalism, One Child humanizes the policy that defined China and warns that the ill-effects of its legacy will be felt across the globe.

  • Publication date: January 14, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780748450
  • RRP: £12.99
  • Pages: 272
  • Publication date: January 14, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780748467
  • RRP: £4.99
  • 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'.


‘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

Mei Fong

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