Thirty-two years ago Mrs Li and Mr Wu from Zhejiang abandoned their second baby daughter at a marketplace. Mrs Wang Maochen from Beijing has seven children, but six of them are illegal so they could not go to university, could not take a job, go to the doctor, or marry, or even buy a train ticket. Zhao Min from Guangzhou first learned about the concept of a sibling at university, in her town there were no sisters or brothers.
With the Chinese government now adapting to a two child policy, Secrets and Siblings outlines the scale of its tragic consequences, showing how Chinese family and society has been forever changed. In doing so it also challenges many of our misconceptions about family life in China, arguing that it is the state, rather than popular prejudice, that has hindered the adoption of girls within China.
At once brutal and beautifully hopeful, Secrets and Siblings asks what the state and its children will do now that they are becoming adults.
Mari Manninen is a Finnish journalist, currently writing for the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. She lived for four years in Beijing, where she reported on China’s rapidly changing society for a number of newspapers and magazines.