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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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Down from the mountains

15 minutes

Why millions of children are left to raise themselves in the Chinese countryside

While industrialisation has prompted unprecedented economic growth and allowed for the rise of a new middle class in China, urbanisation has also left some 9 million children in the countryside alone or in the care of relatives as their parents work in cities far from home. Down from the Mountains chronicles the lives of three children, the oldest of whom is 14, who when not in school live often unattended on a farm in Liangshan, an autonomous region for the Yi ethnic group. With their parents working in the distant city of Huizhou, where they make headphones for $15 per day, only their grandmother, who lives a 40-minute walk away, is able to supervise them and help with farm work on occasion. The UK-born director Max Duncan’s short film brings us into the lives of this fractured family as Jiajia, the mother, considers a permanent return home.

The full-length version of this film was produced in collaboration with ChinaFile, a project of the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Director: Max Duncan

Producers: Susan Jakes, Muyi Xiao, Motsi Ithlop

Support Aeon

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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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