My Sunday column looks at the rise of China, through the prism of the new women’s world chess champion, Hou Yifan. She’s a 16-year-old schoolgirl, and an astonishing phenomenon. Until now, there has only been one woman to crack the top 100 in chess rankings, and that’s Judit Polgar, by far the most impressive player in the history of women’s chess. Polgar, from an amazing chess-playing Hungarian family, peaked at no. 8 in the world and most recently was ranked 49. But Polgar is 34 and is unlikely to surge to the top of the rankings, while Hou Yifan is young enough that she could end up in the top few players worldwide over the next 10 or 15 years. (While Hou Yifan is the women’s chess champion, she still has a lower ranking than Polgar, who does not compete in women’s tournaments. Here’s the piece by my Times colleague and chess columnist Dylan McClain about Hou’s triumph.)
My larger point is that China is investing in human capital, and spreading opportunity, in ways that will profoundly shape the 21st century â€” and that should also shape us. We can and should learn from that commitment to education and spreading opportunity. Post your thoughts on the column here, and stay tuned for several more columns from China over the next couple of weeks.