Since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October first advanced the rural revitalization strategy, the Central Rural Work Conference has accorded high priority to the strategy’s implementation. And this year’s
No 1 central document has prescribed measures to facilitate the implementation of the strategy in an all-round way.
Thanks to rural and agricultural modernization in China, rural residents’ production capacity and living conditions have been continuously improving. In particular, after the 18th Party Congress in 2012, China’s agricultural development entered a new phase, with new types of agricultural operations growing and a new agricultural industry developing rapidly. Also, the urban-rural income gap has been narrowing, and the poverty alleviation campaign has achieved great results, with the infrastructure in rural areas upgraded and rural basic social services remarkably improved.
But rural and agricultural development in China still has a lot of room for improvement. The competitiveness of the agricultural industry is relatively weak, and the quality of agricultural products can hardly meet people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. Agricultural pollution remains a serious issue, and the problems of “left behind” senior citizens, women and children in rural areas are yet to be solved. Also calling for improvement are cultural construction in rural areas and rural governance.
To implement the rural revitalization strategy and to make the countryside more beautiful and harmonious, the authorities need to make the agricultural industry more efficient and competitive, better integrate primary, secondary and tertiary industries, and strengthen environmental management and protection, expedite cultural construction and improve governance in rural areas. Measures should also be taken to enhance the sense of gain among farmers, who have an intrinsic right to share the fruits of China’s development.
Besides, the authorities should continue according high priority to agricultural and rural development, establish an integrated development mechanism for urban and rural areas, and deepen reforms to overcome institutional obstacles, so as to resolve issues related to agriculture, farmers, and rural areas as a whole. The idea should be to turn agriculture into a promising industry and farming into an attractive profession, and make rural areas prosperous.
The goal of the rural revitalization strategy is in line with the Two Centennial Goals set out in the 19th Party Congress report, namely that China is committed to building a moderately prosperous society by 2021 and a fully developed and powerful nation by 2049. The Central Rural Work Conference, on its part, said the rural revitalization strategy should get a basic institutional framework and policy system by 2020, and will help achieve basic agricultural and rural modernization by 2035, and all-round rural revitalization by 2050.
For the rural revitalization strategy to succeed, China should increase public investment and improve public services in rural areas, as well as accelerate integrated development to narrow the gap between urban and rural areas in terms of basic social services.
Moreover, rural land system reforms should be deepened, for example by separating ownership rights, contract rights and management rights, and extending the second-round land contract period by another three decades. This will promote the free flow of the rural workforce, integrate small farmer households into modern agriculture, and accelerate the establishment of a new type of farming system.
China will remove institutional barriers to ensure reasonable land supply for the successful implementation of the rural revitalization strategy, improve the rural financial system suitable for agricultural and rural development, promote innovations in financial services, and establish a rural financial credit system, in order to overcome financing difficulties and provide better financial services for rural residents.
China will also reform the financial subsidy policy, pay greater attention to structural adjustment, and resource and environmental protection, as well as scientific and technological research and development.
And it will reform the grain purchase and storage system, and price mechanism to reduce direct market intervention, protect producers’ reasonable revenue, and create an environment for fair competition for rural industries.
The author is a researcher in rural development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.