China seeks 'rural vitalization'
Official statistics show China has a rural population of 600 million living in 2.6 million administrative villages across the country. [Photo: vcg]
China has traditionally been an agricultural nation. Now as the world’s second largest economy is seeking to upgrade its overall economic and social development, the vast often-lagging behind rural region is one of the top priorities for the central government.
The latest “No. 1 central document", released in early February, specifically tackles all issues centering on how to improve the countryside, agriculture and farmers’ incomes.
Officials say the document not only emphasizes the significance of the rural vitalization strategy, but also sets the tone and specifies the targets, policies and requirements for governments at lower levels.
Han Jun is chief of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, which is a top-level inter-department government agency responsible for rural affairs.
"We have a series of major strategies, programs and projects in place and will use them as propellers for the document. We also have a set of arrangements around key issues that rural residents are concerned about, offer comprehensive institutional guarantees, and promise to find solutions to where the money will come from."
Chen Xiwen, a senior political advisor, says the strategy is aimed at increasing farmers' incomes and creating more jobs for them.
"The central government proposed the rural vitalization strategy based on the fact that China has a huge rural population. One key problem facing us is how to create more jobs for farmers and increase their incomes now that China has entered a new era of economic development.
“As the country's GDP slows down, cities may not be able to offer the millions of jobs for rural workers they could before. So we should try and promote an integrated development of primary, secondary and tertiary industries in rural areas."
Many experts say the big gap between urban and rural areas in terms of development and income levels has become a key issue hindering the country's overall economic development.
The “No. 1 central document” stresses that China cannot become wholly modernized without modernizing its agricultural and rural areas.
It envisages that by 2050, rural areas should have “strong agriculture, beautiful countryside and wealthy farmers.”