On November 6th, Chinese Ambassador to Sudan Ma Xinmin publishes a signed article titled “A People with Enough Food Feels Secure, A Country with Strong Agriculture Keeps Stable” for the “China Focus Column on Sudan Vision”. The full text is as follows:
A People with Enough Food Feels Secure, a Country with Strong Agriculture Keeps Stable
Over the past 70 years since 1949, historic progresses have been made in China, winning heartfelt recognition all over the world. Among all the factors for the success, focusing on agriculture stands far out, as the Chinese believe “Agriculture is a matter of prime importance for the people”. China, with her 7% only of the world’s farmland, successfully provided for 1.3 billion people and miraculously lifted more than 0.75 billion rural inhabitants out of poverty, transforming herself from a formerly impoverished country with 89.4% rural population into the world’s second largest economy. What then are the keys to China’s agricultural success?
The first key is China’s attachment of great importance to agriculture. Agriculture is always regarded as a basis for national stability and for people’s security in China. In the Chinese’s eyes, agriculture is the cornerstone of the national economy and developing agriculture is the first and foremost important thing for state governance and for people’s welfares. As is stressed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping, “We should neither neglect, forget or ignore agriculture, farmers or the rural areas at any time.” With the focus placed on agricultural development, the yearly No.1 Documents issued by the Central Government, for 16 consecutive years, have been solely on agriculture, rolling out policies toward boosting agriculture and bringing benefits to farmers. Agricultural taxes, husbandry taxes, specialties taxes, and even land rents, practices with worldwide popularity and millennium’s history, are now exempted in China, reflecting the government’s guideline on farmers from taking to giving.
The second key is China’s commitment to the farmers’ subjective and active roles and to the safeguarding of their fundamental interests. The Chinese government takes the people as the owner of the country, respects their wills and gives full play to their initiatives, trying her best to safeguard and enhance their interests. Economically, the Chinese government consolidated and improved the basic management system in rural areas and adheres to the basic status of family-as-a-unit-to-contract-land-from-the-government-and-manage-for/by-themselves system (Family Contracting System), making the per-capita rural disposable incomes see a near 40-fold growth. Meanwhile, the Chinese government keeps insistence on rural living standards improvement and 90+% of the rural areas across the country now gets access to paved roads, stable electricity, modern telecommunications and broad-banded networks. New Rural Cooperative Medical Care, Social Insurance for Rural Residents and Compulsory Education are now available in all rural areas. Politically, the Chinese government respects the rights of the farmers and has established a rural governance combining self-governance, rule of law, and rule of virtue, investigating and punishing Micro Corruption (the Slightest misdemeanors) to protect the farmers’ rights.
The third key is her commitment to food security. As an ancient Chinese wisdom saying highlights, “among 8 most important governance issues, food stands atop”. With a tremendous population but comparatively little land, China has always kept alerted on food issues. For food security, the Chinese government has practiced the sustainable farming strategy and innovative agricultural technology application. A 120-million hectares farm-land-red -line has been drawn and the strictest farmland protection practiced, making constant progress in farmland fallow rotation and designated protected areas for grain production and protected areas for important agricultural products production. By realizing a five-fold increase in annual grain production at 650 billion kilograms in total, China successfully attained self-reliant in food supply. The Chinese people now have not only enough to eat, but also a lot to choose from.
The fourth key is her commitment to reform and innovation. The first of such innovation is seen in its proper handling with the farmer-farmland relation. In China, land is owned by the government, while with the Family Contracting System, farmers are secured the right to contract and manage the farmland, in which farmer-farmland relationship is stabilized and the famers’ initiatives encouraged, the allocation of land resources as well as the institutions thereof optimized. The second of such innovation is the market-orientation reform. With the decisive role of Market fully played in agricultural production, operation and rural resources allocation, agricultural development has been fostered, rural property right cleared and the allocation of market elements perfected. As quoted by Nobel Laureate Ronald H. Coase as, the Family Contracting System and Rural Cooperative Enterprises, are two of China’s major innovations driving China into a market economy. Innovation also goes to agricultural science and technology, which are considered a vital impetus to agricultural development, to which the contribution of scientific and technological advances reaches 58.3% and the overall rate of mechanization 80%. Furthermore, innovation is seen in the agricultural input. Taking agriculture and rural areas as the key area for national fixed asset investment and committed herself to rural infrastructure improvement, the Chinese government has prioritized fiscal support and financial services for agriculture and rural areas, and given preferential measures in public finance to agriculture and rural areas.
The fifth key is her commitment to the integrated development of urban and rural areas. China’s reform and opening up initiated in rural areas and later extended to urban areas, with the latter nurturing back the former after development. In pursuit of urban-rural integration, China has ended the urban-rural dualism, adhering to coordinated development through overall planning, facilitated two-way flow of resources between urban and rural areas, and established and improved long-term mechanism for agricultural development through industry, pushing for a balanced allocation of public resources and promoting equitable rural access to basic public services.
“Agriculture is fundamental to the country.” As the Chinese President Xi Jinping noted, “While China is marching toward prosperity, beauty and affluence, strong agriculture, beautiful countryside and well-off farmers are 3 musts.” If there is a developed agriculture, there would be feel-secured-and-happy-to-work farmers, and there would be harmony and safety in rural areas. If there are secured and happy-to-work farmers, and harmonious and safe rural areas, there would be stability, order and peace in the country. Such is the basic experience and conclusion China got from its agricultural success.