SCIO briefing on the development of agriculture and rural areas in 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020)

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People's Daily:

We felt in our interviews, farmers pay high attention to and very much expect to see rural reforms. What progress and achievements have been made in this regard during the 13th Five-Year Plan period? What measures will be taken in the next stage? Thank you.

Liu Huanxin:

Rural reforms are the driving force of rural development. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to the reforms. Through joint efforts across the entire country, the reforms have continuously deepened in recent years and significant progress has been made. Let's invite Mr. Wu from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to answer your questions.

Wu Hongyao:

Since the beginning of the 13th Five-Year Plan period, the Agricultural Office of the CPC Central Committee, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and other relevant government departments have deepened rural reforms in an all-round way in accordance with the arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, making remarkable progress and scoring many achievements. They can be summarized as "a batch in three aspects." First, we introduced a batch of reform plans with top-level design. Second, we carried out a batch of pilot reforms that made in-depth breakthroughs. Third, we established a batch of mature legal systems. Through the reforms, we preliminarily set up pillars and provided institutional and policy support for implementing the rural vitalization strategy. Achievements were demonstrated in six ways.

First, significant progress was made in reforming the rural land system. The verification, registration and certification of land contracts and management rights was successfully completed. A system of separating rights between ownership, contracts, and management was preliminarily established. The Law on Rural Land Contracting was revised. The CPC Central Committee also announced the extension of the second round of rural land contracts by another 30 years, giving farmers assurances in ownership over the long run. The pilot plan for reforming the rural homestead system was also published, marking the launch of a new round of pilot reforms. At the same time, the marketization of rural collective land designated for commercial construction and reforms in rural collective land requisition were in steady progress.

Second, steady steps were made in reforming the rural collective property rights system. The check and verification of rural collective assets were completed smoothly. A total of 6.5 trillion yuan of rural collective assets and 6.55 billion mu of land resources were checked and verified nationwide. A total of 438,000 villages completed reforms that saw productive assets converted into shares and over 600 million members of collective economic organizations were confirmed.

Third, the construction of new agricultural operational systems was accelerated. We implemented programs to cultivate family farms and upgrade farmers' cooperatives. Now there are over one million family farms and over 2.2 million farmers' cooperatives in China. We also supported producer services in agriculture and expanded the number of organizations providing services for agricultural production to 440,000. The commercial and specialized services in agriculture brought small rural households into line with modern agriculture methods and explored a path of agricultural modernization with Chinese characteristics.

Fourth, the system of supporting and protecting agriculture was further improved. We implemented the national food security strategy, adhered to the principle of increasing food crop production based on farmland management and the application of technology, and put into place the strictest system of arable land protection. We designated 1.55 billion mu for permanent basic cropland and 1.088 billion mu for functional grain production and designated protected zones for the production of major agricultural products. We also improved price-setting mechanisms for agricultural products as well as the system for their purchase and storage and established a system for subsidizing agricultural production, all of which achieved positive results.

Fifth, notable achievements were made in developing the rural governance system. A rural governance system under the leadership and organization of the CPC was established preliminarily, integrating self-governance, rule of law, and rule of virtue. The role of community-level Party organizations in leading Party members to devote themselves to reform and the vanguard as well as exemplary role of Party members were brought into full play. We also saw increasingly standardized villagers' self-governance organizations, further highlighted the rule of law in rural construction, and promoted a basically sound mechanism for governing rural customs.

Sixth, solid moves were made to integrate urban and rural development. We made steps to offer urban and rural areas equal access to basic public services as well as set up universal basic aged-care pension, basic medical insurance, and serious illness insurance systems for both urban and rural residents. A total of 95 percent of China's counties passed the assessment for balanced development in compulsory education. Major progress was also made in reassigning rural populations permanent urban resident status. Public employment and entrepreneurship servicing both urban and rural areas equally were also improved significantly.

Next, in accordance with the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, we will pay more attention to improving agriculture policies in rural areas and for farmers, continue to handle relationships between farmers and landowners, and launch major reforms to improve the rural property rights system and the mechanism for market-based allocation of production factors. In doing so, we aim to promote the free flow and equal exchange of urban and rural production factors, fully stimulate the internal driving forces of rural development, and offer stronger institutional support to the all-round vitalization of rural areas. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you, Mr. Liu, and thanks to all the other speakers and media friends. That's all for today's press conference.

Translated and edited by Zhang Liying, Yuan Fang, Zhang Rui, Li Huiru, Wang Yanfang, Xiang Bin, He Shan, Gong Yingchun, Cui Can, Zhang Junmian, Zhang Jiaqi, Zhou Jing, Wang Qian, Duan Yaying, David Ball, Laura Zheng, and Tom Arnstein. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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