No matter how cataclysmic the changes in China that are reflected in these and other pages, in the end it all comes down to individuals and the decisions they make.
People across China are striving to improve their lives and give their children the best possible start, and the government is rightly focused on the twin issues of raising living standards and dealing with the growing gap between the richest and the poorest.
Higher incomes, a wider choice of goods in the shops, better health care, better education – these are the goals. Education makes a difference in meeting the other targets, but all schools are not created equal nor are teachers. The places that have the worst education are also those with the most people and the biggest need to catch up – the rural areas.
The regular Travels to the West articles in this magazine chart Graham Earnshaw's progress as he walks from Shanghai to Tibet. This month he introduces the charity that has developed alongside his journey – the China Reading Project. Many of the remote rural areas of China through which he has walked are becoming directly linked into the rest of the world for the first time, but the level of education is insufficient to prepare children for the challenges and opportunities this will bring.
The idea of the charity is to provide books to schools in remote areas, in the hope that they will help spur kids to widen their horizons and transcend the relative poverty of their homes. It is done one book at a time, and there is just no way of knowing which book in the hands of which child will make a difference.
Reading makes a difference. So CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW has decided to support the China Reading Project.