Agriculture, rural community and farmer-related issues remain China's top priorities for the 15th consecutive year as the country charts a road map for rural vitalization.
The "No. 1 central document", the first policy statement of the year released by central authorities and regarded as an indicator of policy priorities, was issued on Sunday by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and State Council.
The report pledged to make agriculture a promising industry, farming an attractive occupation and rural areas beautiful places to live and work.
The strategy for rural vitalization was first proposed as one of the major ways to develop a modernized economy during the 19th CPC National Congress last October.
In Sunday's document, the strategy was described as a "historical task" essential to accomplishing China's modernization goals and building a moderately prosperous society.
With over 600 million farmers, usually living in less developed rural areas, agricultural development is a must – and the Chinese central government has attached great importance to such a task as well as to the welfare of rural residents. The latter is "an inevitable requirement for resolving the contradiction between Chinese people's growing needs for a better life and the unbalanced development, and realizing the common prosperity of all the people," said the document.
In December last year, Chinese authorities outlined during the Central Economic Work Conference three-step goals for rural vitalization, which were further explained in the "No. 1 central document".
By 2020, institutional framework and policy system should be basically established. By then, no one in China will be living under the existing poverty line, and rural productivity and agricultural supply will improve substantially.
By 2035, "decisive" progress should be made with basic modernization of agriculture and rural areas. All Chinese, either in cities or rural areas, will have equal access to basic public services. Urban and rural integration will improve.
By 2050, rural areas should see all-around vitalization featuring strong agriculture, a beautiful countryside and well-off farmers.
Proper planning required
The document put emphasis on the need for proper planning. Local governments are required to specify their plans according to the local reality, especially for the period from 2018 to 2022, and to coordinate their policies in relevant spheres.
For instance, in well-developed villages, the priority may be placed on increasing public services. In places with a long history and rich natural and cultural resources, development must be made in parallel with protection.
In villages with harsh living conditions and a fragile natural environment, more relocation efforts should be taken.