I would urge everyone to read Victor Mair’s guest post at Language Log. Its conclusion seems to me indisputable:
The people of China — now, as they have been for the past three millennia — are constantly challenged by an enormously complicated script suitable only for an elite consisting of a tiny proportion of the population…
If only China would adopt a policy of true digraphia (PINYIN plus HANZI) and actively promote it, the problems of illiteracy would vanish within a decade or two.
I’ve said that before myself, but people seem unwilling to accept it; the romance and storied history of the characters blinds people to the obvious.