The Real-Life Future of China, Through the Eyes of its Children

August 22, 2016/ Back in the Real World, Blog, Historical/ 0 comments

In 1997, a lady called Xinran came to the UK from China. Having hosted a radio show called Words on the Night Breeze for several years, she had accumulated so many stories of Chinese women that her heart was full to bursting. She had to write them down, or she could no longer function properly and continue to help them.

But she knew she couldn’t write that book while she was still living in China, and so she moved to London. At first, she worked as a cleaner, with very little English. But in time, she completed the book, called The Good Women of China; she met Jung Chang’s agent Toby Eady; and the book was subsequently translated and published. (Xinran also married Toby.)

Xinran at the Hay Festival 2016. Photo credit: Andrew Lih, via Wikipedia

Xinran at the Hay Festival 2016. Photo credit: Andrew Lih, via Wikipedia

Reading that book changed my life and in 2006, I met Xinran (who had agreed to help me with something I was writing). She signed my book for me (I treasure it), and we talked about China, names, customs, everything. For a lady with very little free time, she generously gave me some of hers, and we’ve continued to stay in touch. She is one of the most genuinely warm-hearted people I have ever known.

Xinran set up and runs a charity called Mothers’ Bridge of Love, in an effort to form a bridge between adoptive and birth families, China and the West, rich and poor. As a direct result of the one-child policy, many thousands of baby girls were aborted, abandoned or put up for adoption. The lucky ones found families, mostly in the West.

But it isn’t just girls. Millions of Chinese families can’t afford to send their children to school, and so many are forced to drop out before they’ve had time to get a good education. One of MBL’s ongoing efforts is the Books for Kids project, in which people donate books, which then get sent to schools and libraries in China.

These children are the real future of China, and we must take care of them so they can see China into the next few decades and beyond. Please go and visit the Mothers’ Bridge of Love website and see if there’s something you can do to help, even if it isn’t much. Every bit is appreciated. Xie xie.


Xinran and me, Queensway, London, 2006

Xinran and me, Queensway, London, 2006

NB To donate to Mothers’ Bridge of Love, please click here. Thanks.

Also published on Medium.

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