Book reviews

Mei Fong’s One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

For over three decades, pro-life researchers like Steven Mosher have disclosed the horrors of forced abortions in China, resulting from the one-child policy.  Now, yet another contemporary critique of that disastrous policy reinforces the pioneering work of the early researchers.

Fong provides not only anecdotal evidence, but also official data to support several tenets repeated throughout the book: that China’s economic growth is not related to its population control (xi), that the one-child policy in China is unnecessary for economic prosperity (xiii), that the one-child policy is responsible for forced abortion in China (xv), that the one-child policy is based on “an arbitrary economic goal” (48), that China is experiencing severe problems associated with a rapidly aging population (139); and that the problems of an aging population will increase because of the success of the propaganda behind the one-child policy—successful because most middle class Chinese only want one child (208).  Unfortunately, these are only some of the negative consequences of China’s experiment in population control, social control (such as the suppression of filial piety under the Mao regime), and forced abortion.

Fong mentions several important recent episodes in Chinese abortion history: Feng Jianmei’s case, whose image of her seven-month aborted child, thanks to the Internet, led to world condemnation of China’s forced abortion practices (60-1); Steve Mosher’s seminal work in exposing the forced abortion component of the one-child policy (61); and Chen Guangcheng, the famous activist who sought legal action against family-planning officials for their coercive measures (80-1).

Fong’s empathy with Chinese mothers who are forced to abort matches sorrow of her own; she miscarried her first child, a sorrow balanced at the end of the book with a loving account of the birth of her twin sons.  Unfortunately, Fong cannot end her work happily regarding China’s future; the trajectory of the drastic one-child policy and forced abortions suggests a bleak future for the country.

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