Children make a gingerbread house at a shopping mall in Huaibei, China, on Dec. 18. Christian culture, though still unfamiliar to most Chinese, continues to spread. According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, more than 23 million Christians now live in China – a significant jump over the past three decades that has helped to popularize the Christmas holiday. Li Xin/Newscom
A shopkeeper shows Christmas products to a customer at a market in Yiwu City, China, on Dec. 14. Zhang Jiancheng/Newscom
A Chinese pastor conducts mass on Christmas Eve at the Southern Cathedral, the oldest Catholic church in Beijing in 2008. Ng Han Guan/AP/FILE
Chinese families gather with their children to paint a giant Christmas tree at a shopping mall in Beijing on Dec. 19. Newscom
Christmas decorations adorn Xidan Commercial Street in Beijing on Dec. 18. Newscom
Visitors take photos in front of a lighting display at the SOLANA Shopping Park in Beijing on Dec. 19. More than 1,000 sets of light creations were presented at the third SOLANA Lights Festival. Imago/Xinhua/Newscom
A 75-foot Christmas tree, costing about $120,000, stands in front of a shopping mall on Hangzhou, China, on Dec. 17.
A woman walks past a Christmas tree decoration at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China, on Dec. 10. Jing Wei/ColorChinaPhoto/Newscom
A craftsman trims a reindeer made from grass in Linyi, China, on Dec. 18. Newscom
A woman inspects Christmas trees made of grass in Linyi, China, on Dec. 18. Newscom
UN Millennium Development Goals report shows how 'bold targeting' has reduced the gap between boys and girls attending primary school, malaria mortality, and the number of people living without improved water sources.
For those who see little reason for optimism about global poverty and social trends, here’s something to cheer about: The world has made impressive progress towards meeting a set of development goals set by world leaders in 2000.