Highly interesting HBO Documentary: China’s stolen children (US/GB 2007)

“Through the personal stories of several men, women and children whose lives are impacted by the stolen-child black market in China, China’s Stolen Children brings viewers face-to-face with a crisis brought on by the controversial one-child policy, implemented in 1979 to slow the country’s explosive population growth. As narrator Ben Kingsley explains, “The Chinese government doesn’t want the outside world to know about the crisis facing China’s children, so this film had to be made entirely undercover. The film crew posed as tourists, moved hotels every three days, and changed SIM cards after every phone call.” Remarkably, the subjects all agreed to appear on-camera, although several interviews are held in darkened cars or out-of-the-way locations to avoid detection. The result is a harrowing look at an illegal but largely uncontrollable practice that has reached epidemic proportions.” (excerpt from HBO site)

Dutch television broadcaster VPRO showed this documentary today, obviously in the light of the current Olympics. It is shocking and insightful to see some of the effects from the current extraordinary demographic disequilibrium in China, inevitably following the decades of one-child policy. 

This documentary follows the story from different angles, the buyers, the sellers, the people whose child is missing, and the middle men.  

Interesting is the full cooperation of one child-trader, who really feels he is doing the community a big favour. He compares himself to an adoption agency, it is simply a matter of supply and demand. We would almost forget that it is not always clear if the children were ‘obtained’ voluntarily, bought, from the parents. The documentary reports about child abduction, also girls now, as they are finally in relatively high demand.

Also very interesting is one tenacious detective, who tries to track down and rescue missing children. One of his successful rescuing operations is filmed. Very emotional and captivating television, as one can expect.

The other ‘smaller’ stories are equally moving though. For instance, the moving depiction of a father and mother telling about their missing son making it to the second ‘missing children’ card deck, the special tool to facilitate the searching process for the children. So many children are missing, that the usual postering brings no results.

Watch it if you get the chance…

link to synopsis of this documentary on the HBO site