Monday, February 5, 2018

No. 1 Document Sets Rural Revitalization Program

A deep and broad "rural revitalization" program is the focus of the Chinese communist party's "Number one document" on rural policies for 2018. Chinese leaders describe rural revitalization as a key historic development that will mark China's new century of prosperity and strength in contrast to the previous century of weakness and exploitation by foreign powers.

The ambitious and idealistic program is purportedly inspired by the thinking of "core" leader comrade Xi Jinping. The program is aimed at finally "winning" the long-sought "relatively well-off society." There will be balance between countryside and city development, people will enjoy a good life, poverty will be eliminated by hooking up poor regions with thriving industry, the countryside will be beautiful, there will be harmony between humans and their natural environment, Chinese industries will produce quality products, Chinese products will be internationally competitive, R&D will drive development, yet traditional Chinese culture will be preserved and propagated. All of this is to be orchestrated by the communist party.

A TV graphic laid out objectives for rural vitalization for 2020, 2035, and 2050.

The 16,400-character rural revitalization program laid out in the Number one document is deep and wide. The program's mantras include "institutional innovation", "transformation," "upgrade," "quality" and "green." The program is unabashedly socialist yet industrial development is at the core of the strategy. Agriculture will be overhauled by nurturing new types of agricultural business operators, including family farms, cooperatives, and "dragon head" agribusinesses. The document calls for linking up farms with processing, input, and tertiary industry. The document specifically calls for developing a native dairy industry, singles out the domestic agricultural machinery industry for strengthening, and repeats the exhortation in previous documents to invest in agriculture abroad and to create large Chinese multinational grain-trading and agricultural conglomerates. The fight to eliminate rural poverty relies on setting up thriving industries in poor regions and replacing ramshackle dwellings with new modern housing developments.

Land is to remain collectively owned, but elaborate arrangements are supposed to facilitate consolidation of fragmented plots into internationally-competitive appropriate scale farms. Rural households are to have their land contracts extended for 30 years and receive certificates verifying their land holdings. Then the peasant land-holders can pool their land and turn it over to modern farmers. However, land will be under strict control over its use to ensure national food security. The appropriate scale farms are expected to not only earn profits from low-margin grain crops but also give training, credit, and technical assistance to small-scale rural households.

Bankers will march forward to finance the vast overhaul of rural China. They will make loans secured by abstract temporary production rights to far-flung plots of land. The document acknowledges that the countryside is already riddled with debts for infrastructure, but does not seem to think more debts incurred to level fields, build irrigation ditches, and construct housing developments in impoverished villages will be a problem.

After decades of polluting water, air and soil, and sucking the organic matter and nutrients out of the ground, China is now a proponent of green, sustainable development. According to Chinese leaders, "ecological live-ability is the key to rural revitalization," and "a good ecological environment is the greatest advantage and source of wealth for the countryside."

the rural revitalization program calls for combining thriving industry and a clean environment.

China's rural revitalization also aims to influence the world. There will be a more open trading environment with stronger trade relations with countries and regions along the "one belt one road" path. China hopes to boost exports of high-value specialty agricultural products. China aspires to play a stronger role in making rules that promote global food security and a more fair and equitable international agricultural trading system.

The "Number one document" sets broad goals for progress on rural revitalization. By 2020, there should be major progress in rural revitalization, with the institutional framework and policy system basically in place. By 2035, agriculture and the countryside should be basically modernized, agricultural structure improved, rural people should have better quality employment, basic public services should be equalized between city and countryside, rural civilization should have reached a new degree, and the rural governance system should be much improved. By 2050, rural revitalization should be complete, agriculture strong, the countryside beautiful, and peasants rich.

According to the document, China's communist party will "[raise] high the great flag of socialism with Chinese characteristics with guidance from Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, face the difficulties, work hard, forge ahead, to win the all-round well-off society, and make a great contribution to socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era."


Godfree Roberts said...

If the Party says they can deliver that, then it will deliver that. Would that our politicians were so reliable.

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