​Xi Jinping's rural revitalization strategy

By Jamie Mulholland
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 15, 2018
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China's rural area [Xinhua]

China's rapid economic development and an urban policy bias have contributed to rural-to-urban migration, placing food security in a precarious position. Major agriculture and land reform is needed to drive China's rural revitalization strategy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping placed "pursuing a rural revitalization strategy" third in China's "New Vision of Development and Developing a Modernized Economy" during the 19th CPC National Congress on October 18, 2017. When speaking with deputies to the National People's Congress from Shandong Province at a panel discussion last week, he re-iterated that the rural vitalization strategy is the leading agenda for government work on agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents.

In response, the Ministry of Agriculture is looking at a more scientific approach supported with local data collected from villages across China. Xi's new land reform policy, piloted in 2014, permits the transfer of rural land to create modern state farms, separating farmland ownership rights, contract rights, and management rights. This is intended to optimise land use, while providing more freedom and security to farms.

Besides, a number of projects are focusing on promoting economic opportunities, helping to alleviate poverty and reduce economic migration to urban centers. Another strategy aims at revitalizing traditional villages through rural tourism, reshaping rural identity. Increased attention given to historically and culturally significant villages has led to tourism-based traditional village revitalization models, seen as a key approach for sustainable rural development and poverty alleviation.

Rural revitalization through reform is both necessary and practical for balanced economic and agricultural development. A range of factors contribute to rural-to-urban migrants, including education, earning potential and the comforts of China's modern cities. This can be achieved through continued improvements to the standard of living, policies that incentivise and modernize agriculture and policies that promote diversified economic opportunities. Strategies for countering rural decline should focus on these areas to attract new businesses and investors, creating jobs for the surrounding communities and encouraging the younger generations to remain.

China's rural revitalization projects, including investments in infrastructure, energy, irrigation and new technologies have proven an effective poverty reduction strategy, yet more work is needed to address the imbalance between rural and urban living standards. China's land rights reform over the past three decades has achieved significant success. Recent land reform has opened the door for private investment in large-scale farming. These measures will promote new economic opportunities and rural sustainability by addressing China's long time urban biased policy.

The author is PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations, University of Reading.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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