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Key takeaways from No. 1 Central Document on roadmap for rural revitalisation

CGTN – CHINESE authorities on Saturday unveiled the No. 1 Central Document for 2024, outlining the priorities for comprehensively promoting rural revitalization this year.

The document is the first policy statement released at the start of each year by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, China’s cabinet, and is seen as an indicator of policy priorities.

To promote Chinese modernization, it is essential to consolidate the foundations of agriculture continuously and push forward rural revitalization comprehensively, according to the document.

The document is composed of six parts, including ensuring national food security, improving rural industries’ development and enhancing rural governance.

Here are some key takeaways from the No. 1 Central Document for 2024.

Utilizing experience of Green Rural Revival Program

The document stressed the need to utilize the experience of the Green Rural Revival Program, a sweeping campaign launched in 2003 to improve the rural environment across Zhejiang Province.

The program began with a mission to improve rural living conditions by renovating approximately 10,000 incorporated villages in five years, and by transforming about 1,000 of those that were classed as central villages into examples of moderate prosperity in all respects.

With the concept of green and sustainable development at its core, the program has greatly improved local living conditions. It has also strengthened rural governance and explored a development path that balances economic growth with ecological benefits.

From 2003 to 2022, the urban-rural income ratio in Zhejiang narrowed from 2.43-to-1 to 1.9-to-1, well below the national average of 2.45-to-1. In 2022, Zhejiang’s village-level collective economy had assets totalling 880 billion yuan ($123.5 billion), accounting for 10 percent of China’s total.

The project was recognized with the Champions of the Earth Award, the United Nation’s highest environmental honor, in September 2018.

In interpreting the No. 1 Central Document, a senior official with the Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs on Saturday called on local authorities to learn from the successful experience of the program but warned against applying it mechanically in a one-size-fits-all approach.

Two redline requirements

The document noted that two redline requirements in rural-related work are to ensure food security and prevent farmers from sliding into absolute poverty. Almost 100 million farmers have shaken off poverty since 2012 as part of a national antipoverty drive.

It is imperative to keep sown farmland at a stable level and increase output per unit at a large scale to ensure that the grain output for 2024 remains above 650 million tonnes, according to the document.

China’s grain output rose 1.3 percent year on year to a record high of 695.41 million tonnes in 2023, the ninth consecutive year China has registered a grain harvest of over 650 million tonnes.

The key to ensuring national food security is to implement incentives to mobilize farmers to grow grain, said the rural affairs official.

Meanwhile, efforts should be made to better implement the monitoring and assistance mechanisms to prevent people from slipping back into poverty, and improve support through developing industries and employment, said the official.

Three priorities

The document made it clear the priorities to promote comprehensive rural revitalization lie in three fields: enhancing rural industrial development, rural construction and rural governance.

It is imperative to advance the development of rural industries across the entire chain, concentrate efforts to build a beautiful countryside that is attractive to live and work in, and facilitate positive changes in rural customs to further improve the efficiency of rural governance, according to the document.

The official also stressed the importance of building modern agriculture by pursuing industrialization as well as high-quality and green rural development.

Efforts should also be made to optimize the configuration of rural communities, industrial structure and public service allocation so as to adapt to the trend in rural population changes, according to the official.

Zhang Hongyu of the Institute for New Rural Development of Peking University told China Media Group that more efforts to address the shortcomings and weaknesses in rural-related work are called for in the document, highlighting its emphasis on promoting rural revitalization across the board.

Dual drivers of technology and reform

The document outlined the systemic arrangement to strengthen the dual drivers of technology and reform in promoting rural revitalization.

Efforts need to be made to strengthen the role of reform and the role of sci-tech development in promoting rural revitalization and to facilitate various means by which rural residents can increase their incomes, according to the document.

The official said the building of platforms for sci-tech innovation in the agricultural sector should be supported, and efforts to make breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields should be intensified.

The document also proposed the implementation of actions to boost farmers’ incomes, with the aim of consolidating the momentum of their income increases and promoting common prosperity, said the official.

In 2023, the per capita disposable income of rural residents was 21,691 yuan, an increase of 7.7 percent, bringing down the ratio of per capita disposable income for urban residents to that of rural residents, which stood at 2.39, according to the official.

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