China is undergoing remarkable and rapid change. Many of the older people have lived through times of incredible hardship and famine on a scale that is often not fully appreciated in the west. Now economic prosperity is spreading, but there remain big differences between rural areas and the big cities, and between the Eastern seaboard and deep inland. In some of the more remote regions there are still people who, it has been said "cannot even afford themselves." However, as more areas open to tourism, this introduces change, and the opportunity for improved living standards.
In the cities such as Beijing or Shanghai monthly salaries are increasing steadily – although not yet in line with equivalent western cities they are steadily getting there. This is accelerating with the new prosperity, foreign trade relations and rapidly rising standards of education in major centres.