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  • Aug 20, 2014
  • Updated: 4:22pm

Weibo users angered by portrayal of one-child policy on The Blacklist

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 8:58am

Chinese internet users have a message for the screenwriters of new US television drama The Blacklist: You've got a lot to learn about our country.

The third episode of The Blacklist, a new NBC series in which the FBI and a former fugitive team up to fight terrorism, features a villain named Wujing, a Chinese spy who kills CIA operatives.

The hunt for Wujing sparks discussion among FBI agents about his background as the second child in a Chinese family. Because of China's one-child policy, one of the agents claims, Wujing was cast out and became "invisible" to his family.

China's one-child policy is restrictive, but not as draconian as The Blacklist depicts. Some Chinese are not limited to one child. Exceptions for minorities, rural residents and others mean that a significant portion of China's population is allowed to have at least two children.

"If all second children had to be sent away, China would lose at least half of its population," remarked one weibo user.

When those who are subject to the one-child policy violate it, enforcement can be brutal, but it is also uneven. Many families find a way around the law, paying an administrative fee to get authorities off their backs.

Even in areas where the policy is strictly enforced, most Chinese who have a second child are far more likely to pull strings, pay fees and suffer punishments than cast out their children.

Many parents choose to violate the policy if they have a daughter first, in hopes that their second child will be male. "Those who have additional children do it to get a boy!" one weibo user wrote. "Why would they throw [Wujing] out?"

Children born in violation of the one-child policy suffer more from administrative disadvantages than from shunning — it is sometimes more difficult for them to obtain the household registration permits that are required for schooling or health care.

Other users joked that if Wujing's story were true, there was at least a silver lining. "Under the one-child policy," wrote @Mr—Faceless, "there are so many unregistered children, we'll never lack for spies."

The first episode of The Blacklist, which aired on September 23, has already received a combined 6.5 million views on mainland YouTube-like sites Youku, QQ TV and Sohu TV. Weibo users complained that the show's third episode was pulled from video sites, perhaps due to its perceived anti-China bias.

But some weibo users found that the Wujing plotline showcased common ground between Chinese and Americans. User @IFYOUAREFREE wrote, "We often think that it's difficult to understand the United States. It looks like it's even harder to get China."


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In Beijing I talk with many people coming from other cities. The average of children in their family is something like 2.5. I rarely find someone from a one-child family. And none talks about the "draconian" measures against all that. Weird, so much unlike what the government claims and what Western media show. I don't say bad situations do not exist in some places but ...


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