One Child Nation (2019) Movie Script

[children singing, faint]
[children continue singing, faint]
[cheering, applause]
-[cheering, applause continues]
[Nanfu Wang narrating]
I was born in China in 1985,
a time when China's population crisis
was making headlines around the world.
There are more than a billion Chinese.
That one big statistic,
more than anything else,
is at the heart of that country's
huge economic problems.
By the middle of the next century,
if China's families have
an average of three children,
there will be starvation.
However, with one child per family
the standard of living doubles.
So now there's a desperate effort
under way to control the population,
to limit families to just one child.
Chinese officials are using fines,
economic incentives and propaganda.
Billboards like this one
are up all over the country.
They have a long way to go.
[Nanfu narrating]
Six years before I was born,
China launched its One-Child Policy.
I grew up seeing reminders
of the policy everywhere.
They were painted on the walls,
printed on playing cards...
snack boxes, posters.
All of them blended into
the background of life in China.
I never thought much about
what it meant for me-- or anyone--
until I learned that I was
going to be a mom.
Our baby was born seven weeks early.
I was not prepared.
Right after he was born,
the nurses took him away from me.
The separation and fear
for his health was traumatic.
Twelve days later, I was finally able
to take him home and hold him.
This is Mama's hair.
Becoming a mother felt like
giving birth to my memories.
A rush of images
from my early life came back to me.
I thought of my own parents
and the name they gave me.
They chose the name Nanfu
before I was born.
Nan means "man,"
and fu means "pillar."
They hoped for a boy who would
grow up to be the pillar of the family.
When I was born a girl,
they named me Nanfu anyway,
hoping that I would
grow up strong like a man.
I remembered the plaques
the government hung
on all the front doors
in my village every year,
signifying each family's commitment
to the Communist Party's values.
Each plaque was decorated with stars
indicating how well the family performed,
including a star for whether the family
had no more than one child.
Our family always missed that star.
I remembered
being sent to middle school in the city
because our village
only had an elementary school.
Most of the city kids
came from one-child families.
Whenever someone found out
that I had a brother,
I felt embarrassed,
as if our family had done something wrong
by having a second child.
Under the One-Child Policy,
how could you have my younger brother?
We live in a rural area.
In rural areas,
people could have two children.
However, the two children
have to be five years apart.
That's why you and your younger brother
are five years apart.
That's why we could have two children.
Are you looking at Grandma?
Grandma is telling us
the story of Mommy's birth.
The One-Child Policy
was very strict back then.
I personally witnessed
many homes demolished...
because families refused
forced sterilization.
Their roof was ripped apart.
At that time, ultrasound gender tests
were not allowed.
When I was about to
give birth to your brother,
your grandma put a bamboo basket
in the living room and said...
"If it's another girl,
we'll put her in the basket
and leave her in the street."
The midwife called out, "It's a boy!
It's a boy," just as the baby was born.
Your grandpa was thrilled.
He yelled happily: "Let's set off
firecrackers and celebrate!"
[firecrackers popping]
Your little brother was born in 1900.
After you were born,
they were going to sterilize your mom.
Your grandma didn't dare to resist.
She almost allowed them
to sterilize your mom.
But I stood up to it.
Eventually, they agreed that she could
have a second child after five years.
I could stomach five years.
[clears throat]
Who ordered the sterilization?
Village officials.
Baby, things are great now.
Everything is a lot better.
You have it so much easier than your mom.
[Nanfu narrating] I moved to the US
six years before my son was born.
Bringing him back to my village
for the first time
showed me how traumatic it was
just to become a parent in China.
[children singing, chattering]
[chattering continues]
Visiting the village kindergarten
where my mom teaches,
I remembered that we had textbooks
about the One-Child Policy
since we were kids.
Our life is so great
I used to think that I knew everything
there was to know
about the One-Child Policy.
But now I wondered if the thoughts I had
were really my own
or if they were simply learned.
I asked my neighbor to take me to see
the former head of my village,
who was in charge
when the One-Child Policy began.
He was one of the people
my grandpa argued with
about sterilizing my mom.
Come here and open the door, please.
[quiet chattering]
[Nanfu laughs]
I'm teacher Zaodi's daughter.
I was wondering
why your face looks so familiar.
Teacher Zaodi's daughter
is visiting from the US.
Are you Nanfu?
Yes, I'm Nanfu.
I almost didn't recognize you.
Yeah, I've changed a lot.
But I still look a lot like my mom.
Very much alike! That's why I was
staring at you for such a long time.
Do people in the US play cards?
Yes, they do.
What positions did you hold?
I was the Village Team Leader,
the Village Party Secretary
and then the Village Chief.
The One-Child Policy
was very difficult to implement.
Why was it so difficult?
The One-Child Policy...
Traditionally, everyone wants a son.
While the One-Child Policy
was very strict,
it was very difficult to change
how people think.
Ordinary folks just didn't buy into it.
How would you explain
when they wouldn't buy in?
We'd persuade them using propaganda.
[cymbals clanking]
[speaking Chinese]
There are opera and dance performances
in every village.
I've written operas
to promote the benefits of only one child.
My goal was to promote
the One-Child Policy using folk arts.
[chanting continues]
Fewer children makes for a happier life!
[Nanfu narrating] Men like Liu Xianwen
worked all over China
to promote the One-Child Policy.
Since before I could even speak,
I was surrounded by messages
praising the policy.
-[lively music playing]
-There was TV.
We have taken
the One-Child Policy to heart.
Our lives are so great now
thanks to the Party's foresight!
Theatrical performances.
The One-Child Policy is truly great!
The One-Child Policy gives us hope!
Fully implement our national policy!
And even children's songs.
If you have a second child
You violate the law
Then you'll be detained
If you try to escape
You will end up in jail
Think twice about it
Don't say I didn't warn you
And just like everyone else,
I joined in the choir.
This was me performing
propaganda songs.
We all had the same makeup,
the same dresses
and the same mentality.
What did you say
when promoting the policy?
I said that the policy came from above.
We below didn't want to do this
but had no choice.
That was all the explanation
that I could give.
Otherwise we had to demolish their homes
or take their possessions.
It was really tough
being an official back then.
We had to carry out the orders,
but people resisted.
They resisted.
When you saw a home being demolished,
did you think it was cruel?
It might be cruel.
But policy is policy. What could we do?
Like I said,
there were instances when women
refused sterilization
in a particular village,
and then all the county officials
had to go...
and collectively force her
to be sterilized.
It was really fucked up.
I couldn't bear to watch.
Honestly, I couldn't take part in that.
I just stood and watched.
We were rural village officials.
We had to follow the chain of command.
Insubordination is not tolerated.
[Nanfu narrating] As I was leaving,
I asked my neighbor who went with me
if he could take me to meet some women
who were affected by the policy.
Can we go visit some women
who were forced to abort?
I don't think you should.
What do you want to film there?
I just want to ask them
about their experience.
It's best you don't.
Who wants to recall such painful memories?
But they've never had the chance
to talk about it.
I'm telling you,
you'd better not get him into any trouble!
I know. I know.
If you get him into any trouble,
your mom will have to pay for it.
You mark my words.
I don't care
that your uncle is an official.
No, no, you misunderstood.
If you dare make trouble for him...
I won't. I won't.
Don't make trouble.
Don't worry. I won't.
He's an honest man.
I know. I know.
[chattering continues]
[Chinese pop music playing]
[Nanfu narrating] That night, I decided
it was best to speak to someone I know.
So I went to see the local midwife
who delivered all the babies
in the village, including myself.
She was happy to see me.
She showed me photos
of my grandma,
who used to be in the same
propaganda band with her.
I used to have a photo with your grandma.
I gave it to your mom.
Your grandma was also in this photo,
but I can't make out which one she is.
How many babies did you deliver
over your career?
I really don't know
how many I delivered.
What I do know
is that I've done a total of
between 50,000
and 60,000 sterilizations
and abortions.
I counted this out of guilt
because I aborted and killed babies.
Many I induced alive and killed.
My hands trembled doing it.
But I had no choice.
It was the government's policy.
We didn't make decisions.
We only executed orders.
The medical team was organized
on the county level.
For 20 years we traveled around
to do sterilizations and abortions.
How long
does a sterilization procedure take?
Sterilization takes ten minutes.
On my operating table,
I'd do over 20 a day.
In those days, women were abducted
by government officials,
tied up, and dragged to us like pigs.
I've been retired for 27 years.
I've established a rule:
no more deliveries, inductions,
abortions or sterilizations.
I exclusively treat patients
with infertility.
[Nanfu narrating] On the wall, there was
a long list of infertility disorders.
Next to it were flags
people sent to thank her
for helping them have babies.
When these two flags arrived,
I wasn't home.
My granddaughter received them.
[Nanfu gasps, exclaims]
Look at this. It's from Fujian Province.
They were referred to me
by someone I treated.
Is this bright enough for your camera?
I'll turn on all the lights.
I'm very glad you're here.
Why did you decide to treat infertility?
I want to atone for my sins,
for all the abortions and killings I did.
What goes around, comes around.
There'll be retribution for me.
Most of my coworkers
have already passed away.
I've dedicated myself to charity.
I am always the first to donate money
for building temples,
bridges or monuments.
I've done so many bad things in the past.
While some might say that these
were not bad things because it was my job,
I was the one who killed.
I was the executioner.
I killed those babies, didn't I?
The state gave the order,
but I carried it out.
A 108-year-old monk once told me,
"If you treat the infertile
for as little money as possible,
then each new baby you bring to life
could reverse a hundred you killed."
His words stayed in my heart, so I
became determined to make this change.
[Nanfu narrating] My village is one
of many thousands across the country,
and every village had midwives
and family planning workers.
Each year, the government
would punish or reward them
depending on how many babies
were born in their territory.
-[orchestral fanfare playing]
Today we'll hear speeches
from excellent family planning officials.
They're creators of familial bliss
and the most admirable people
in this new era.
Let's welcome them
with the warmest applause!
For 30 years
Jiang has loyally performed her duty
and earned love and respect
from her fellow citizens.
She has been elected many times
as the People's Representative
of the National Congress.
She also has won numerous awards,
including National Outstanding Worker!
Let us express our gratitude for her
with warm applause.
[applause fading]
This is
the National Distinguished Worker award.
The Excellent Labor Award.
Model Worker Certificate
from the 16th National People's Congress.
The National Model Worker Award.
The Most Admirable Person
of the New Era Award.
The National Outstanding Worker
for Children's Affairs.
This photo is...
when I was received
by our national leaders.
Here is President Jiang Zemin,
President Hu Jintao,
and many other national leaders.
And here I am,
the one wearing a red flower.
[Nanfu narrating]
She was standing right behind Wen Jiabao,
the country's premier at the time.
Received like a national hero,
Jiang's story was told
again and again by the state TV.
[man narrating]
The One-Child Policy was essential.
Since its implementation
in the early 1970s,
our country has prevented
338 million births
and saved $130 million worth of resources.
Our family planning officials
made this possible.
Jiang is an excellent model among them.
If I could go back in time,
I would do this work again.
Looking back,
the policy was absolutely correct.
Our leaders were prophetic.
If not for this policy,
our country would have perished.
I was only 19 when I started
working in family planning.
I initially thought that forcing abortions
was an atrocity.
I wanted to quit several times.
But the leader said to me,
"It is a national policy, and as
a party member,
the more challenging the job,
the more determined you should be
to take it on."
Many of the fetuses aborted
were eight or nine months along.
When they were aborted,
they were still alive.
Sometimes pregnant women tried to
run away. We had to chase after them.
One time a pregnant woman
was so distraught,
she took off all her clothes
and ran away naked.
Unable to catch her, we turned
to the Party Secretary and asked...
"Where should we grab her?
There's nothing to grab onto!"
That's how things were.
During abortions, women would cry,
curse, fight, go insane.
Those memories...
I had to put the national interest
above my personal feelings.
It was like fighting a war.
Death is inevitable.
It really was like that.
We were fighting a population war.
[Nanfu narrating]
"We are fighting a population war"
was a common slogan
used by the government
during the One-Child Policy.
China started a war
against population growth,
but it became a real war
against its own people.
[tank guns firing]
I did a project called Motive.
I painted fetuses on the book
The Thoughts of Chairman Mao.
One fetus for each page
on 366 pages,
suggesting this happens every day.
As a human being,
it takes guts to kill a person.
Especially for young nurses.
How could they bring themselves to kill?
What made them do this?
It all comes
from long-term indoctrination.
What indoctrination specifically?
For example,
"Collective interests above all else,"
"Individuals submit to the collective,"
as well as, "The party is infallible."
This indoctrination destroys a person's
humanity, individuality and conscience.
If this is the Party's order,
it must be the right thing to do.
Most people never questioned this.
What prompted you to question them?
Actually, I...
I began truly exploring
the One-Child Policy as a theme in 1996.
At the time,
trash was the theme of my paintings.
This place is under a bridge.
There was all kinds of trash there,
plastic, wooden debris and consumer waste.
This area in particular
had many discarded mannequins.
I was very moved by what I saw
and wanted to capture it in my work.
As I was scouting the location,
I found in the trash heap a...
a discarded fetus.
It was wrapped on the outside
by a black plastic bag,
and then inside by a yellow plastic bag
that had "medical waste" printed on it.
From then on,
I wanted to better understand
the current situation
of the One-Child Policy.
I wanted to gather these fetuses
and preserve them
so that people could see
the scale of this phenomenon,
the fragility of life
and the respect every life deserves.
I wanted people to think:
how can we do this...
and why?
The most tragic thing for a nation
is to have no memory.
When the One-Child Policy is over
and people can have
all the children they want,
the memory of the One-Child Policy
will be lost.
Because I've been watching my own child
grow up since he was born,
I distinctly remember just how cute he was
when he was asleep.
When I saw this fetus, I felt as though
I was looking at my own son.
His skin was pinkish,
though he hadn't been cleaned after birth.
He was a beautiful baby.
But he was dead.
A smile was still on his face.
I was wondering,
"Why would he smile
after being aborted and killed?"
It's as if he knew it'd be miserable
to be alive in China,
and he was happy
to have avoided it.
You still think the One-Child Policy
is good, right?
Yes. If it weren't for the One-Child
Policy, there'd be cannibalism in China.
-It would be that serious?
If you have an apple, one child can have
it all, but four kids would have to share.
Come on. How much can a child eat?
Besides, they will soon grow up
and be able to contribute.
People used to starve to death.
Do you realize how difficult life was
for your dad's generation?
Nothing to eat except rice husks,
which caused chronic constipation.
But they still survived.
They survived, but living conditions
were extremely harsh.
What about Grandpa's generation?
Even harsher.
How many children do I have?
[clears throat]
Your eldest aunt...
your dad,
your uncle,
another son named Guoguo.
And another daughter named Lanlan.
Lanlan died in your grandma's arms.
Back then many village children
had smallpox...
but that wasn't
what she was suffering from.
The doctor thought it was smallpox
and gave her a shot at noon.
By the afternoon, she had died.
Guoguo died of...
It had something to do with his brain.
-That's it. Meningitis.
[Nanfu narrating]
My grandpa is 83.
He lived through wars,
famines and revolutions.
My own parents weren't much better off.
My father died of a brain hemorrhage
when he was 33.
And his short life was more about survival
than finding fulfillment.
None of my family questioned the policy
or how it was implemented.
The government used music and TV
to show people a better life
that they could imagine themselves living,
as long as they followed the rules.
[woman singing lush orchestral ballad]
Even in the hardest times
You stare down challenges
With the utmost sincerity
Press on and have faith
Tomorrow will surely be a much better day
You shouldn't be so critical
of the One-Child Policy.
While it's cruel
to demolish people's homes,
it's a necessary measure
to enforce the policy
since everyone wants more children.
[Nanfu narrating]
I wish I could say something to my mom.
Like most people in China,
she believes the policy
was necessary for China's survival.
But I wondered if people like her
really thought it was worth
the sacrifices each family made.
When I was born...
If I were born a girl, I would have been
put into a basket and sent away.
If I were a girl,
I would have been discarded.
Our father died young.
You were in middle school
and I was in elementary school.
Since Mom couldn't afford
to put us both in school,
she decided that you
should start working right away.
You could help the family financially,
but you could also
support me individually.
[stammers, voice trembles]
When I learned about this...
I felt incredibly sad...
but it was completely
outside of my control.
[Nanfu] Grandpa, does my son
mean the same to you as my brother's son?
Of course not.
What does your son call me?
Won't it be "great-grandpa?"
No, extended great-grandpa.
It's extended.
We're separated.
Your brother's son calls me
immediate great-grandpa.
He's within the family,
but you're outside of the family.
Why's there a difference?
You and your brother are siblings.
Right. Aren't we the same?
But you married into
someone else's family.
We all want a grandson, for sure.
How come?
To carry on our family name!
Without male offspring,
the family would go extinct.
What about daughters?
Daughters marry off
and permanently join other families.
[Nanfu narrating]
Coming back here, I realized
that I don't even have
a photo of my grandpa and me,
as he only ever took photos
with his two grandsons.
One thing I find especially absurd...
Mothers and grandmothers
favor their male offspring too,
even though they themselves are female.
For instance, Grandma would
save snacks for me, but not for you.
Mom chose me over you
to continue schooling.
[Nanfu narrating] When my mom was born,
her parents named her Zaodi,
which means
"bring me a younger brother soon."
She later helped her younger brother
abandon his daughter in the market
so he could try again for a son.
We couldn't discard the baby
in broad daylight,
so we carried her in a basket,
climbed over mountains
when it was still dark out.
We put $20 in her clothes
and left her on the meat counter
in the market.
For two days and two nights,
she was there.
No one wanted her.
Her face was full of mosquito bites.
-She eventually died.
Then we buried her.
My mom said
that you cried for a long time.
Of course I did.
Who wouldn't?
I cried nonstop when I gave her away.
After becoming a mom myself,
I can't even bear to listen to my child
cry for more than three minutes.
How did you deal with that?
My mom threatened to kill herself
and said,
"If you keep this baby girl,
I will either kill myself
or I will strangle her to death
before killing myself."
I thought I could save her life
by giving her away.
But she ended up dead.
If she hadn't died,
she would be 27 or 28 now.
[Nanfu narrating]
I wish I could say that my uncle
was the only one in our family
who felt he had to abandon a child.
My two sisters-in-law helped me
pass her along to a human trafficker.
-Was the trafficker someone you knew?
Was the trafficker
doing this professionally?
-Yes. She's a relative of my husband.
-Related how?
She's my husband's cousin.
Had she done this for many years?
Yes, and I heard that
she'd make $45 per baby.
Did she pay you?
No. No one wanted girls.
Many infant girls were left at the market
and died of sun exposure.
Maggots were all over their dead bodies.
Your grandma told me that
there was no taker in the market.
How could I leave her there
to die like other babies?
At the time, I wasn't even
thinking about her future.
I just wanted her to live.
[Nanfu narrating]
The large number of abandoned babies
created opportunities
for human traffickers all over China.
In my village,
we called them matchmakers
because they took unwanted babies
and found homes for them.
Talking with my aunt about matchmakers
triggered a memory I had
of a national news story
from a decade ago,
where an entire family was convicted
of selling babies to orphanages.
At the time, it seemed cruel and evil
that someone could sell babies like that.
But now I wondered if the government's
version of their crime was true at all.
I tracked down the ex-trafficker
Yueneng Duan in Shenzhen.
Duan spent four years in prison
but now works as a security guard.
The day I was there,
he was on his break,
scavenging furniture from a company
that was going out of business.
Such a comfy chair!
Were you and your family
the biggest traffickers in the country?
I can't say that we were the biggest,
but we most likely
were in operation the longest.
How many babies
have you sent to the orphanages?
If I do the math,
I'd say around 10,000.
Ten thousand babies?
That's right. Not just one or two
or a couple of thousand.
-Ten thousand?
-Yes, 10,000.
[Nanfu narrating]
The number 10,000 sounded high to me,
but I had no way to verify it.
I asked him to show me
exactly how he did it.
[woman on PA speaking Chinese]
He used to take a train
almost every day
between Guangdong Province,
where he would find babies,
and Hunan Province,
where he would sell the babies
to the orphanages.
I used to walk on this road day and night
to see if there were any abandoned babies.
If so, I would bring them
to the orphanages.
The orphanages would pay me $200
for each baby I brought in.
They then put them up
for international adoption.
Using the overseas adoption money, they'd
pay for more babies from traffickers,
perpetuating this cycle of transactions.
Were the babies you trafficked
all from Guangdong and Hunan?
You could find so many abandoned babies
just in these two provinces?
I remember when I was around 17 or 18,
I'd bike around town...
I'd see four or five abandoned babies
along the way.
You started trafficking babies
at that age?
No, I just watched them die.
At that time,
I didn't know where I could bring them.
I only started bringing abandoned babies
to the orphanages around 1992-1993.
[Nanfu narrating]
1992 was the year that China began
its international adoption program,
allowing foreigners
to adopt Chinese orphans.
The demand from orphanages grew so fast
that Duan's family had to find help.
Our helpers included trash collectors,
gas cylinder delivery drivers,
motorcycle taxi drivers
and bus drivers.
Their jobs required them
to roam around town.
They'd pick up abandoned babies
whenever they saw them.
These people all came
from the bottom of society.
They felt very sorry for these babies
and wanted to help.
In the beginning,
we didn't do it for the money.
We just wanted to rescue those babies
and help them find food and shelter.
We thought orphanages were charities.
I brought babies to state-run orphanages.
They paid me.
Shouldn't they be prosecuted first?
This is our verdict.
My youngest sister got 10 years.
My eldest sister got 15 years,
and I got six.
There was a trash collector
who got five years
for picking up one baby
and giving it to my sister.
[Meilin] I started my sentence at 32
and came out at 42.
My son was only five when I went in.
I was in prison for so long that
my son and I seem to be living
completely different lives.
We can't find anything in common
to talk about.
[Yueneng] If the One-Child Policy
had never been implemented,
none of this would have happened to us.
This policy not only took the lives
of newborn babies.
It also ruined the lives of many adults.
Do you ever miss your daughter?
Sure I do. It's impossible not to.
I don't know whether she's dead or alive.
The traffickers didn't share
any information with you?
No, they wouldn't do that.
They didn't want the birth families
to track down these babies
and get them back in the future.
It's been 30 years.
How quickly time flies.
Looking back, do you hate the policy?
What's to hate? Policy is policy.
I harbor no hate.
It's my fate.
Your fate for having a daughter?
A fortune-teller once told me
this is my fate.
[Nanfu narrating] Until my aunt told me
the story about her abandoned daughter,
I never knew that I had a cousin.
Now I was filled with questions.
Where could she be?
And where are the children
Duan sold to orphanages?
One family in America has been trying
to answer these questions for 18 years.
[Brian] There are entries
showing that these kids
either came from
the Duan family from Wuchuan
or from, you know, outside,
uh, family planning.
And that's just... it's astounding that,
of the hundreds of kids
at this orphanage adopted internationally,
less then a handful of them actually
seem to have been legitimately found.
-The rest were brought in by people.
-[Lan] I know.
[Nanfu narrating]
Long Lan and her husband Brian
cofounded Research China,
a paid service that tries
to connect adopted children
with their birth families in China.
Their search started
with their own children.
My husband and I adopted three girls
from orphanages in China.
[Nanfu] Why adopting from China was
so popular among international families?
The main thing is that the China program,
from the beginning,
was extremely predictable.
You knew practically down to the penny
how much money you were going
to need to bring to China.
You knew where you were
going to be on every day.
You knew what forms
you were going to sign.
Everything was 100% orchestrated.
[Nanfu] How much was the average
total cost to adopt from China?
Generally between, say,
$10,000 at the very least
to $20,000 to $25,000.
So we, uh, did research,
submitted our dossier
and adopted Meikina in 1998, April 4.
[Brian] And it was, in every sense
of the word, a life-changing experience.
And we said,
"Boy, we need to go on that ride again."
Now look at the camera.
Two, three, one.
-Come on.
-Here. One, two...
My eldest daughter has been
wanting to find her birth parents
since she was very young.
One day, she ran to me and asked,
"Why didn't my birth family want me?
Why? Why? Why?"
Then she ran back in her room
and hid under her bed.
When I went to her, she started to cry.
Oh, my God.
I really didn't know how to answer her.
[Nanfu narrating]
For most of Meikina's life,
they thought they knew exactly
how she came to them.
[Brian] I'd actually started
researching in China in about 2000,
and interviewed this finder.
One thing that we wanted to know is
what time of day she found Meikina.
And the detail in the experience
that she painted for me
struck me as completely legitimate.
Morning, about 8:00 a.m.
How was she doing?
She was found wrapped up or in a box?
-She was in a paper cage.
-In a what?
-Paper cage.
-A cardboard box?
For ten years, I was convinced
that that story was accurate.
Um, and then finally Lan said,
you know,
"Maybe we should go back
and I should meet this finder
and talk to her myself."
So she went back,
found the woman I had interviewed,
and the woman, like, kind of got
a little bit nervous, and she said,
"Have you spoken to the orphanage?
I actually had nothing to do
with your daughter's finding.
Our names were just
put on the paperwork for the adoption.
We didn't find your daughter."
[chuckles] Now, when Lan called me
and told me that, I was like,
"Wow. That is amazing."
Because now I recognized
that the orphanage
had prepped the finder before
I had even gotten there in 2000 and said,
"Give him a good story. Make something up.
Just make him feel good."
And that's what happens
in the majority of cases
when Western families go to China,
and they give this same story
over and over and over again.
[Lan] It must have been
towards the end of 2005 that
I read the news about the Duan family
trafficking babies
and noticed some discrepancies.
It made me curious and...
I wanted to contact Duan
and find out how they operated.
How come I can't find that one?
I first met Duan in 2010,
after he had been released from jail.
[Nanfu narrating]
Talking with Long Lan,
I realized I was following the path
she had already discovered.
These were all from the US, Canada, Spain.
These are all the children's names?
Yes, so many of them.
So when they say the babies were found
in front of the orphanages, is that true?
[Nanfu narrating] She had reached out
to Duan and his family
many years before I did.
She has a copy of all the records
from Duan's trial.
She also interviewed Duan's mom,
who passed away several years ago.
She was the first person in the family
who sold babies to orphanages.
[Nanfu] When you brought a baby
to the orphanage for the first time,
what did the director say to you?
-He said--
-How much money did he pay you?
He said, since I had
taken care of her for a while,
he'd give me $115.
You took care of that child
until she was two?
She was old enough to feed herself,
but I just couldn't
take care of her anymore.
Was it difficult to give her away?
It was tough.
I was inconsolable.
Cried and cried at the orphanage.
The director of the orphanage asked me,
"Is she your granddaughter?"
I said, "No, I found her."
"You found her?
Her own family abandoned her.
Why the fuck are you crying?"
He scolded me and said,
"Stop crying. She is better off here.
Her life will be better than yours.
If you find more abandoned babies,
make sure to bring them here."
And so the orphanage will hire--
not officially hire, but will create
a... a recruiting network
of doctors, midwives,
foster families, whatever.
You know? Anybody, um, that can--
can locate and bring children
into the orphanage.
When those children
come into the orphanage,
then, of course, they need to--
The orphanage then needs
to fabricate their information,
say, "Oh, yeah, let's pick
the third middle school today."
You know,
and they'll tell the adopted family,
"Your child was found
at the third middle school."
Um, when, in fact, they were
never actually found at all.
So, what the orphanages will do
is they'll make an agreement
with their local police station and say,
"Okay, we're going to bring
over these finding reports,
and we need you to stamp it and sign it,
and we'll pay you 50 yuan or whatever
for each one that we do."
[Brian] The finding ads are published
in newspapers that nobody ever reads.
You know, basically, they're just a photo
with some information about the child--
their gender, their health status,
where they were supposedly found,
uh, how old,
their birth dates, and so on.
And then, at the bottom
of the finding ad it says, uh,
"The birth family has 60 days
to retrieve the child,
or the child will be
submitted for adoption."
[Nanfu narrating] Looking at
the finding ads in the newspapers,
I wondered about each baby's story.
If they weren't orphans,
were they given to matchmakers
like my own cousin?
I found many sets of twins.
Most of them probably were separated...
and they don't even know that
they have a twin somewhere in the world.
[Lan] Since 1992 up to now,
at least 130,000 Chinese babies
have been adopted by families overseas.
[Brian] When you take that information
from all the children
and you collate it together,
you can begin to see patterns.
This is the location that the orphanage
told the adoptive families
where their child was found.
And so you can see-- uh, orphanage gate,
civil affairs, orphanage,
civil affairs, orphanage.
It's clear that, you know,
they're making up the information,
because they're using the same locations
over and over and over again.
[Lan] The fraud and corruption
I discovered was nationwide.
The following cities have absolutely
been involved in baby trafficking:
[Lan reciting names]
[Brian] It used to be that
family planning would come in
if you had an over-quota child,
and they'd bash down your house
or they'd take a pig
or, you know, do something.
Once the orphanage joined
the international adoption program,
that changed,
and so now they saw kind of
a win-win situation going
where the family planning would go in
and take the child that wasn't registered,
turn it in to the orphanage,
the orphanage would reward
the family planning officials,
and then adopt that child internationally.
[Nanfu narrating]
I lived in China until I was 26,
but I'd never heard
that government officials
were confiscating babies
during the One-Child Policy.
I was shocked when Brian said
the story was uncovered years ago
when I was still living in China.
This was me back then.
Throughout my life,
I was taught to believe
the love of my country
was equal to love of
the government and the party.
Now, when I look back
at this time in my life,
I'm amazed at my ignorance.
[Nanfu] Why do you think that it's
so rarely known if it's so widespread?
The Chinese government
exerted a lot of influence
to suppress the story.
Um, threatened the newspaper,
threatened the reporter.
Um, the reporter ended up
having to leave China, you know,
because of that kind of stuff.
[Nanfu narrating]
I e-mailed the journalist,
who is in exile in Hong Kong,
and asked if he could meet me.
He agreed, but only if we meet in a hotel,
because he didn't want to
reveal his address.
[man] As soon as the report came out,
I was fired.
The government immediately barred
any follow-up reports on this matter.
[Nanfu narrating]
Pang had extensive evidence.
He and a colleague had taken cameras
to Hunan Province in 2010.
The government had targeted
families in Longhui County,
one of the poorest places in all of China.
[dogs barking]
Zhou, are you home?
[man] How old was your granddaughter
when she was taken away?
Three-and-a-half months old.
How did they take her?
I hid with her in this old house.
About eight or nine people
came and took her away.
After they took the baby,
they asked you to pay a fine?
Yes, but we didn't have enough money.
-How much was the fine?
-Did they ask you or someone else?
-They asked me.
Who asked you?
One of the family planning officials.
I don't remember which one, though.
-A family planning official?
This is where we hid.
You hid here?
Yes, we were hiding in this pigsty.
They asked us to pay $1,500.
[Pang] The government needed money,
so they came up with a scheme
to collect "social maintenance fees."
The Family Planning Office,
the Civil Affairs Bureau,
the police department and the court--
several government agencies
all worked together to collect the fees.
Look! This is a slogan
they wrote on the wall.
"Whoever violates the One-Child Policy
will lose all their possessions."
I filmed this in 2011,
and there were still signs like this.
[Nanfu narrating] Growing up,
I saw signs like this everywhere.
How many babies
were abducted in Shaoyang?
I have very concrete evidence for 20,
but that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Zeng Shuangjie, how old are you?
[Zeng] Ten years old.
She was only ten when I met her.
[Nanfu narrating] Then he showed me
footage of Zeng Shuangjie.
He told me that Zeng had a twin sister
who was taken away from the family.
[Pang] They took the older twin sister
away for violating the One-Child Policy
and put her in an orphanage.
The family was told to pay a fine
to get her back.
What did they say about the fine?
They asked for $500 first.
Then the figure grew to $800 the next day,
and then $1,500.
The fine grew with each passing day.
She was soon adopted
by an American family.
The American family
is also a victim in this case
because the state-run orphanage said
the babies were orphans,
while in fact they were not.
[Nanfu narrating]
In Hong Kong, Pang wrote a book
titled The Orphans of Shao.
He used the twin girl's
picture on the cover.
It couldn't be published in China.
An English version was published
with the help of
a US nonprofit organization.
[woman on PA speaking Chinese]
Since Pang's report
was published in 2011,
the situation of the families in Shaoyang
is basically the same.
There has been no accountability
for the people responsible.
[dog barking]
I am here to help you
find your twin daughter.
-This was the younger twin?
She's all grown up.
She's 16 now.
English. E-N-G-L-I-S-H.
History. H-I-S-T-O-R-Y. History.
My dad told me that I have an identical
twin sister who lives in the US now.
When she was taken away,
she had just started to walk.
I wonder if her adoptive parents
treat her well.
The US is a developed country, right?
She probably has milk and bread
for breakfast.
Her life must be very good there.
I hope one day she will come back...
and be reunited with our family.
We'd celebrate the Chinese New Year
together in the spring,
catch fish in the river together
in the fall
and have snowball fights in the winter.
We'd dress the same,
have the same hairstyle,
go to school together, eat together,
and come home together.
It would be so great
to do everything together.
[Nanfu narrating] I told Lan the story
about my aunt and my missing cousin.
She said she might be able to help.
How old was your daughter
when she was taken away?
Twenty days.
Even though we were together
for only 20 days,
I felt attached to her and was
very torn when I had to give her up.
I can collect your DNA sample to find out
if there's a match abroad.
Based on her age, there is a high chance--
What is the age group of adoptees
that you located?
The oldest adoptee we located
was born in 1988.
Mine was born in 1989.
The One-Child Policy was very strict then.
Let me first collect your DNA sample.
Please spit into this
until your saliva reaches this line.
I'd be so grateful if you can find her.
You should thank her instead.
[Nanfu narrating]
After meeting with my aunt,
Lan kept traveling around China,
gathering DNA from families
to test for matches with children abroad.
One thing that struck me was
that everyone we spoke to
said the same things about the policy.
The One-Child Policy was so strict.
The One-Child Policy was extremely strict.
The One-Child Policy was very strict.
The One-Child Policy
was incredibly strict then.
-We had no choice.
-I had no choice.
We really had no choice.
Back then,
there was really nothing we could do.
[Nanfu narrating]
As I heard the answer again and again--
"I had no choice"--
I realized that you could ask
anyone in any part of China
about how the One-Child Policy
affected them,
and all of them would say
the same thing.
I truly had no choice.
What choice did I have?
[Nanfu narrating] I was so angry,
even with my own family,
that there wasn't more
to be said or done.
There was such a shared sense
of helplessness.
It reminded me,
when every major life decision
is made for you, for all your life,
it's hard to feel responsible
for the consequences.
Long Lan and Brian started
testing the DNA samples
she brought back from China.
They didn't find my cousin,
but they did discover a match--
a girl in the United States
who is a DNA match to a family in China.
[Brian] This is the list
of all the DNA that we've got.
All of it comes into
GEDMatch Genesis database.
So that-- And that's a free database
that allows us then to compare our DNA
with all the DNA, uh, in the database.
I was going through, Lan was doing
some work, and I was just going through.
I go through each of the matches to see
if there was any that were close matches,
and we got to one of the birth families
and it matched to a girl.
And of course I immediately
reached out to the adoptee,
sent her an e-mail and,
uh, let her know that, you know,
if she wanted more information,
she could write us.
And then she wrote back and said,
"Thank you for reaching out to me.
At this moment, I do not want
information regarding my birth family.
I'm not really interested at this time."
[Nanfu] Did you tell this family
that you have found their daughter?
I haven't yet.
I just think about the girl's--
the adoptee's response.
It's hard for me
to tell her (mom) this news.
And I can imagine
it would be so disappointing for them
to find out that the daughter
is not even interested
to learn about them
or have their information.
[Nanfu narrating]
Lan told me that it's actually very common
that adoptees do not want
to contact their birth families.
This also included the children
she located from Hunan Province
who were kidnapped and sent
to orphanages by the government.
No response. It's very disappointing.
When I shared the situation
with some adoptive US parents,
they were completely shocked.
They just couldn't
take it all in at once...
and were in total denial.
They felt as though
the adoption of their daughter
might have caused her
to be abducted from her birth family.
They were also worried that their daughter
might be forcibly returned to China.
They were afraid they'd lose her,
and so they immediately
cut off contact with us.
I am fully aware that
I can't change everything overnight...
but I hope that my efforts
will eventually pay off.
Maybe in ten or 20 years.
One day, when the daughter grows up...
and realizes the situation, she'll...
she'll finally want to meet
with her birth parents.
[Nanfu narrating]
After leaving Utah,
I decided to take another trip
to China with my son.
I wanted to follow up with the twin girl
whose sister is in America.
I brought the book written by
the journalist in Hong Kong.
While there was no DNA match
for Zeng and her twin sister,
her story had already been made public.
An American journalist located
her twin sister in the United States.
I didn't expect to see myself
on a book cover.
Do you remember meeting this journalist
when you were younger?
No, I was only ten.
-What's your name?
-Zeng Shuangjie.
-Do you miss your sister?
-Do you want to see her?
The One-Child Policy is really--
It took things way too far.
So many babies were taken away.
I didn't even know what was going on
when I was young.
But every child is flesh and blood
from their parents
and no one deserves to be
separated from their parents.
[Nanfu narrating] While the American
family did not want to be interviewed,
Zeng and her twin sister
connected through social media.
My dad says that we look almost identical,
but I don't think we're that much alike.
Look. Her eyes in this photo.
If I parted my hair in the middle,
maybe we'd look the same.
Have you asked if she is interested
in visiting China?
No, I didn't think it was
appropriate of me to ask that.
Because I wanted her to take her time,
think it through and decide for herself.
Has she spoken with your parents?
Do you know how she felt after
learning about her actual background?
You never talk about these things?
You aren't curious?
I've never asked her these questions.
I don't want to put pressure on her
and I want her
to take all the time she needs.
Do you know where she is?
In the US.
Do you know where in the US?
I don't know.
I don't know why, but I couldn't
bring myself to ask her.
What are you afraid of?
Maybe after you asking me these questions
today, I will chat with her about them.
Don't you think these are things
friends talk about?
You said you were afraid
to ask these questions.
What are your concerns?
Are you afraid that she might get annoyed
all of a sudden and block you?
[Nanfu narrating] Many years ago,
I felt embarrassed for having a brother.
But now I feel lucky that
I had someone to grow up with.
I want my son
to have a sibling like I did,
but I want that decision to be my own.
I'm struck by the irony
that I left a country
where the government
forced women to abort,
and I moved to another country
where governments restrict abortions.
On the surface, they seem like opposites,
but both are about taking away
women's control of their own bodies.
The One-Child Policy lasted for 35 years.
Now there aren't enough
young people in China
to work and care for the elderly.
So China is introducing
a new family planning policy.
The signs painted all over my village
have been changed.
Every trace of the One-Child Policy
is being erased.
[women singing Chinese music]
Two children are great
Like migratory geese
They will return home every year
[singing continues]
But the memory of
what the policy really was
survives in the minds
of people who lived it.
If these memories
of the One-Child Policy fade away,
the only thing left will be propaganda.
What a truly great national policy!
Two children allowed for each family!
The young will have siblings,
the old will be cared for.
Feeling glorious, we beam with pride!
[music resumes playing]
[music fades]