China 21, a one-hour documentary, follows four Chinese families as they step into the 21st century. Working without official permits, filmmakers Ruby Yang and Lambert Yam used compact digital video gear to record intimate portraits of ordinary people living in tumultuous times. The talk is candid and sometimes emotional. Families are small -- one child in the city, two in the country -- so children hold center stage. Veterans of the Cultural Revolution are saving up to send their son to business school. Another couple, whose son is a prize law student, glow with satisfaction. To insure his children's future, a peasant leaves his remote village to work in the quasi-legal urban job market. A farm family near Shanghai feels manhandled by the privatizing economy. They sacrifice to send their daughter to high school. China 21 introduces otherwise anonymous people whose spark and initiative are changing their country.

It was shown on PBS stations during May, 2003 -- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. For related shows see the Center for Asian American Media site.

China 21 was funded by the Independent Television Service, with additional support from the Center for Asian American Media.