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China’s No.1 Central Document eyes rural vitalization

Author  :  ZHANG JIE     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2021-04-05

On Feb. 21, China unveiled its No. 1 Central Document for 2021, stressing efforts to comprehensively push forward rural vitalization and accelerate modernization of agriculture and rural areas.

With absolute poverty eradicated, rural vitalization is focused on a work agenda relating to agriculture, rural areas, and rural people. Li Guoxiang, a research fellow from the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the sustainable development capacity of poverty-stricken areas is relatively weak. Holding the bottom line of preventing a large-scale return to poverty, consolidating and expanding the results of poverty alleviation, and effectively connecting with rural vitalization are important tasks for work relating to agriculture, rural areas, and rural people during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–2025) period.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, an effective way to help the impoverished is to rebuild and upgrade their capacity, said Kong Xiangzhi, a professor from the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at Renmin University of China. It is necessary to strengthen the follow-up support for poverty alleviation after the relocation of certain poverty-stricken populations, boost employment through multiple channels, and strengthen the construction of supporting infrastructure and public services. 

By 2025, China will see substantial progress in the modernization of agriculture and the countryside, with achievements seen for a more solid agricultural foundation, a narrower income gap between rural and urban residents, and basically realizing agricultural modernization where conditions permit, said the document.

“Ensuring the supply of grain and major agricultural products has been and always will be the primary goal of our country’s agricultural modernization,” Kong said. Judging from the situation since the 13th Five-Year Plan, China’s grain and major agricultural products have been in sufficient supply, but at the same time, imports increased year by year. 

The No. 1 Central Document requires continued efforts to promote structural reforms on the agricultural supply side. Kong said that this indicates a readiness to optimize the regional structure and product structure of agricultural production, improve the quality of agricultural products, and enhance the competitiveness of major agricultural products.

Kong said that it is necessary to vigorously develop rural industries, form a modern industrial system, extend the industrial chain, and thus allow rural people to benefit from processing, sales, and industry convergence in rural areas. This is an important way to strengthen agriculture and increase rural people’s income. Developed coastal areas and suburbs of large cities should strive to take the lead and realize agricultural modernization by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period, serving as role models for other regions. 

Li said that previous research has focused primarily on agricultural modernization, proposing measures to promote agricultural modernization. However there are relatively few studies on rural modernization. The No. 1 Central Document focuses on realizing the modernization of agriculture and rural areas, highlighting the new characteristics of the work relating to agriculture, rural areas, and rural people in the new era.

Kong said that rural modernization can be summarized into three features, namely, the modernization of people, things, and public services. Rural people must become modern farmers instead of farmers in a traditional sense. The modernization of things mainly refers to the modernization of living tools, living facilities, and living environments. It requires complete, advanced living facilities, and a beautiful and livable environment. The modernization of public services is manifested through convenient, thoughtful, and fast services such as rural medicine and healthcare, elderly care, life, production and other areas. 

Tang Lixia, a professor from the College of Humanities and Development Studies at China Agricultural University, said that the gap between urban and rural areas has long been the most important reason for the unidirectional flow of development resources from rural areas to cities. Promoting rural modernization and boosting integrated urban-rural development are prerequisites for opening up the equal exchange and two-way flow of factors of production between urban and rural areas.

 

Edited by JIANG HONG

Editor: Yu Hui

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