John Oliver Looks Back at China’s One Child Policy on Last Week Tonight

2 minute read

This week on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver turned his attention to China, “the country that is, not the thing you fill a cabinet with when you run out of human needs.”

The Communist Party recently celebrated its 70th anniversary in power so Oliver decided to look back at its one-child policy, which China made the historic decision to end in 2015.

According to Oliver, the one-child policy took a massive effort at national and local level and included forced sterilizations and abortions as well as incessant propaganda. Much of the messaging centered on the suggestion that people have fewer children of higher quality, which Oliver notes is not how children work.

Under the one-child policy, Chinese citizens who had a second child could not register the birth of the child without paying a massive fine. The result is 6.5 million Chinese with no official status, rendering many of them unable to marry or work. Oliver says it’s like someone is “a ghost without the fun parts of being a ghost like rattling chains, summoning cold winds, or making terrible ceramics while having sex with Demi Moore.”

But now, as China faces an aging and shrinking population and a declining birth rate, the government has enacted a two-child policy complete with a new wave of propaganda. “I haven’t seen a messaging turn around that abrupt since Subway changed their slogan from ‘eat fresh’ to ‘forget that pedophile’,” Oliver joked.

See the video above.

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