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Policies on Building 'New Socialist Countryside' Issued
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China's central authorities released Tuesday its first major document of the year which calls for the construction of a "new socialist countryside" as the foremost task facing China in the 2006-2010 five-year period.

The document embraces a set of ideas set forth by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council. It's the third consecutive time since 2004 that agriculture, farmers and countryside development have been the first document of the central authorities, showing the government's determination to solve problems in rural areas.

The document said the next fives years will be key to laying a solid foundation for the new socialist countryside construction. Its aim is to boost modern agriculture, develop new relationships between industry and agriculture, cities and countryside, and increases rural affluence.

The ideas set forth by the central authorities listed eight policy priorities to promote the reconstruction of the countryside:

-- Plan economic, social development in urban, rural areas as a whole, and firmly promote construction of the new countryside;

-- Boost modern agriculture to consolidate industrial support to the new countryside construction;

-- Ensure sustained increases of farmers' income to lay a solid rural economic foundation;

-- Increase infrastructure construction in rural areas to improve rural material conditions;

-- Accelerate development of pubic services in the countryside and encourage new farmers;

-- Deepen comprehensive rural reform to guarantee systematic protection for rural people;

-- Improve democracy in rural areas and perfect rural management;

-- Enhance leadership and motivate all party members and the entire society to care, support and participate in the construction of a new countryside.

"Constructing a new socialist countryside is an important historic task in the process of China's modernization," said the document.

With more than 800 million people living in the countryside, the only way to ensure sustainable development of the national economy and continuous expansion of domestic demand is to develop the rural economy and help farmers to become more affluent, it said.

The document also stressed that construction of the new countryside should focus on practical development and involve democratic consultations.

(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2006)

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