“A timely, important work that takes stock of the one-child policy’s damage…One Child is, like the policy’s abolition, long overdue, and Ms. Fong was the perfect person to write it.” — Wall Street Journal
Mei Fong discusses “One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment.”
At 57th Street Books
About the book: An intimate investigation of the world’s largest experiment in social engineering, revealing how its effects will shape China for decades to come, and what that means for the rest of the world.
When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birth-rates would help lift China’s poorest and increase the country’s global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.
Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy’s repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In “One Child,” she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only-children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China’s future: whether its “Little Emperor” cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over sixty-five years old; and above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China’s growth.
Weaving in Fong’s reflections on striving to become a mother herself, “One Child” offers a nuanced and candid report from the extremes of family planning.
About the author: Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Mei Fong was a Wall Street Journal Chinca correspondent. Her first book, “One Child: Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment,” debuted with “impeccable timing” just as Beijing announced a shift to a nationwide two-child policy. “One Child,” explores the origins of the policy and some of its unintended consequences through a narrative-rich story that is “evocatively rendered and peppered with quirky characters, including a sex-doll salesman and a dating guru who claims that overly assertive women contract breast cancer.”
“One Child” was selected as a BBC Radio 2 book club pick, as well as one of top 5 books to read by Economist magazine’s new lifestyle and ideas publication, 1843.
It has also received critical praise from New York Times, Guardian, Independent, Ms., Economist, Financial Times, and is called “a searing, important, and eminently readable exploration of China’s one-child policy,” by Nick Kristof in the New York Review of Books.
Ms. Fong is currently a fellow at DC-based think tank New America.