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  • Writer's pictureKirk

China Doll - The Story of China’s One Child Law

She stared from her front porch at the only world she ever knew. Not much to look at, but the familiarity brought her a sense of security. Today she hopes to see a neighboring playmate, to ease her boredom.

She’s a cute child of all of 6 years. A bit small for her age by Western world standards, but then she lives in the Far East. Her black eyes are not foretelling of much, other than she longs for something. Something more than is available within the walls of her home. Her thick, black hair pulled back in a ponytail to keep away from her eyes, something a mother sees as a safety precaution.

The cute little China doll is wearing one of the three dresses she owns. Today it is the pink one. Clothes are more scarce in her family as there are no hand-me-downs. No siblings within those walls to have worn before. In a farming economy things are always tight, except for the rice. There’s always rice….

The China Doll is a product of the “One-Child China Policy”. The policy began in 1979 and was modified several times before just recently being abolished in 2021. The large fines levied by the government is intolerable to violate on their modest farming income. Although the law is lifted now, her parents cannot afford another child. So she will remain an only child for life.

Today she stares out across her small village. Not many outside today so she only gazes out, dreaming of just one friend with whom she can share this day. Not wanting to go back within those lonely walls. Mother does her best to entertain, but it’s just not the same. So she stares on…

The pathway to her home is deserted. No sights nor sounds. The older children are already to work in the farms. A necessity in a One-Child world. Farming requires much manual labor and children only a year or two older than her are put into the fields. So much work to do with fewer hands.

China Doll was born female, so that might buy her a year or two reprieve from the manual field work. But not the housework. She has her house chores even at this tender age and she knows she cannot put those off much longer. But for a few more minutes, she continues in her reveries.

Most of her world consists of the 350 square feet within her walls. Kitchen and living area are combined. A mattress pulled out for floor sleeping at night. Only a small bathroom for a private moment. But she’s grateful for that as many she knows have outdoor toilets.

The bigger world she lives in is this small village. She hasn’t even explored all of that yet. Her mother restricts her movements and as a result her world is really no more than 500 feet from her doorstep. Anything further is still a mystery to her. But at least she can see farther than that from her elevated porch.

The girl looks out at an older lady doing the family wash in the small stream that runs through the heart of the village. That multi- purpose waterway that serves the community. The main form of entertainment for China Doll.

She knows the old lady by site only as she’s never actually met her. She lives too far away, and mother would never allow. So she just stairs and watches as her only form of entertainment this morning.

Young girl doesn’t know yet the life that is before her. It hasn’t been completely revealed to her. There are no social programs available for the elderly here so when the old lady that she is watching is no longer able to do the wash, there is no program to fall back upon. No one to do the work, except for the younger members of the family. And in a One-Child China, the burden falls squarely on the lone child.

She doesn’t know yet that her parents will one day give out from the work. Farm work is hard on the body and it causes people to grow old before their time. The body wears out prematurely, unable to heal itself, and only the broken frame remains.

She will have to deal with all this as she ages. No siblings to help to share in the load, the burden of her parents will fall upon her and perhaps her husband one day. But that’s another day, not today.

Life can be brutal in the small villages. But for now she’s insulated from that knowledge. So she stares out at the only world she has ever known, for a few more minutes. Then her mother calls out, it’s time to start those chores she has put off. China Doll exits the porch and goes back into those 350 square feet, her real world….


This is a fictional Friday post in that I do not know the actual story of this young girl. However, the One-Child China policy was real, and the burdens that it created are equally as real. Although this may not be her personal story, it is the story of many that are resultant from this policy.

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells
May 17
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The government was trying to control the population not realizing what effect it would have in the general public. As you spoke a lot of these families don't have family to help with chores. It's always a tough thing to control mother nature.

May 18
Replying to

and human nature too! Thanks for reading Mike!

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