The Rural Vitalization Strategy: The Key to Our Efforts Concerning Agriculture, Rural Areas and Farmers in the New Era
Rural vitalization is one of the major strategies that were introduced at the 19th National Congress of the CPC. Our goals in conducting group study on this topic are to build deeper awareness and understanding of this important strategy, set clear approaches, and ensure that our work is performed well.
I. Implementation of the rural vitalization strategy: a historic task with wide-ranging implications for building a modern socialist China
I have consistently emphasized that without modernizing agriculture and rural areas, we will not be able to achieve modernization of the country as a whole. To a certain extent, how we balance the relationships between industry and agriculture and between urban and rural areas will determine whether the modernization drive succeeds or fails. Looking at other countries’ experience in modernization, there are those that failed to strike the right balance in these relationships, which led to lagging rural and agricultural development and insufficient supply of agricultural products. With agriculture unable to absorb the rural labor force, massive numbers of unemployed rural migrants flooded into urban slums in these countries, their rural areas and rural economies teetered toward depression and industrialization and urbanization fell into dire straits, consequently even leading to social unrest and ultimately getting caught in the middle income trap. The underlying causes of these problems were deficiencies in leadership and governance systems. I am confident that as a socialist country under the leadership of the CPC, China has the capacity and conditions necessary to effectively balance the relationships between industry and agriculture and between urban and rural areas in order to ensure smooth progress for socialist modernization.
We are now at a key historical juncture in our efforts to properly balance the relationships between industry and agriculture and between urban and rural areas. After the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, we were forced by the historical context and international environment at the time to rely on ourselves and rest on the support of agriculture and rural areas as we pushed forward industrialization from a foundation of utter destitution. During this process, we gradually built up fairly sound systems for industry and the national economy. Since the launch of reform and opening up, we have achieved rapid progress in industrialization and urbanization with the backing of factors including rural labor, land, and capital, thus bringing vast changes to urban areas. China’s rural residents have contributed tremendously to the advancement of industrialization and urbanization. Throughout this process, significant achievements have also been made in rural and agricultural development. This has laid solid foundations for China’s reform and opening up as well as the socialist modernization drive.
The last few decades have proven that we have maintained an accurate grasp on how to balance the relationships between industry and agriculture and between urban and rural areas, and that our efforts in this regard have been effective. Over the years, we have seen harvests and rural incomes continuously grow, while rural areas have remained harmonious and stable overall. In particular, though hundreds of millions of rural residents have moved between rural and urban areas in a massive and extended migration, they have done so in an orderly and effective manner. Not only have they not brought social turmoil, they have become an important pillar of social and economic development.
At the same time, however, we must recognize that agricultural and rural development has been outpaced by the rapid advancement of industrialization and urbanization. This problem is now quite pronounced, with an effect comparable to trying to run with one leg shorter than the other. The greatest imbalance in China’s development is that between urban and rural development, while the greatest inadequacy exists in the development of rural areas. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, we have adopted a series of measures to encourage the industrial sector to reciprocate the help that the agricultural sector contributed to its development and promote the provision of support from urban areas to rural areas, in our resolve to adjust the relationships between industry and agriculture and between urban and rural areas. Meanwhile, the rural vitalization strategy decided on at the 19th National Congress of the CPC was aimed precisely at balancing the relationships between industry and agriculture and between urban and rural areas in an overall and strategic approach.
It is an objective law that over the course of modernization, cities take up a larger share while the share of rural areas declines. However, the fact remains that China is a country with almost 1.4 billion people, and no matter how far industrialization and urbanization progress, our agricultural sector must continue to develop, which means that rural areas will remain and co-exist with urban areas over the long term; this is also an objective law. Even when China’s urbanization rate reaches 70%, there will still be over 400 million rural residents. If these people are left behind in the process of modernization and we end up with flourishing cities on one side and run-down villages on the other, then we will have neither lived up to our Party’s governing mission, nor the essential requirements of socialism. Such kind of modernization cannot succeed. Four decades ago, we began the reform and opening up drive by launching rural reform. We should adopt a similar strategy today, opening up a new stage for the modernization drive and integrated urban-rural development by vitalizing rural areas.