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Help farmers close the divide
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The government should increase farmers' incomes and enhance their social security so that they spend more and boost consumption, says an article in Chinese Business View. Following is an excerpt:

As the 2009 version of China's rural economic green book pointed out, the current standard of living and consumption levels of the country's rural residents lag at least one decade behind those of urban residents, with the gap between the two expanding.

While people will not be surprised at the 10-year lag, it has become widely accepted that the country pays little attention to farmers even as it demands way too much from them.

Society has praised the contributions made by farmers for a long time, but their rights - political, economic, social and cultural - have largely been ignored.

Farmers have been deemed a class that is disconnected from the country's rapid social development. The striking divide between rural and urban residents mirrors social polarization in general.

If no timely measures are taken to bridge the gap, social growth will be affected.

China is gradually transforming from a rural society to an urban one. As interests readjust in this transformation, some social classes get access to more economic, political and cultural resources than others because of their advantageous positions.

Therefore, when the central government expands rural market demand by sending home appliances to the countryside at subsidized prices, it should make efforts to increase the incomes of farmers by providing training courses and technological aid, as well as boost their social security so that they have the necessary confidence to spend money.

(China Daily April 20, 2009)

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