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Imagine government officials barging into your home if you have multiple children, confiscating “extra” kids, then adopting them out to foreign countries. China’s one-child policy caused this scheme and much worse to occur for more than 35 years, from 1979 through 2015.
Amazon Prime Video’s One-Child Nation is a disturbing and weighty documentary investigating the devastating effects of China’s birthing restrictions.
Last year, director Nanfu Wang, living in New Jersey, returned with her infant son to the Chinese village where she was born and raised. She wanted to understand how China’s policy caused almost 350 million abortions, created an environment where discarding baby girls was commonplace, and tore families apart.
Wang talks intimately with her mother, relatives, and villagers whom the laws traumatized. She interviews policy enforcers and “family planning” officials, most of whom regret what they felt forced to do, but one proudly displays national awards for performing thousands of abortions and sterilizations.
Chinese culture propagates extreme bias for male offspring, without which families fear they’ll go extinct. Wang’s aunt and uncle each abandoned an infant daughter. The uncle left his baby in the marketplace. He returned to find her dead, covered with flies. Wang’s aunt found a child-trafficker to take her daughter to an orphanage that paid him for his “find.”
Another segment highlights a tearful artist who paints pictures of aborted babies he found labeled medical waste in trash heaps. He wants China never to forget these lives. Sadly and wrongly, Wang equates what happened with China’s forced abortions to U.S. limits on abortions, saying both governments take away women’s control of their bodies.
Today, no evidence of China’s one-child policy outwardly remains. Instead, propaganda posters promoting “two children are great!” abound because the country doesn’t have enough young people to take care of the elderly.
Rated R for graphic content, images, and brief language, including a few F-bombs in subtitles, the film elicits emotional reminders of the deep need for Christ’s mercy and redemption.