China’s approach of rural revitalization

Winning the “war” in the fight against poverty has become a common action of the whole society. Its victory is a manifestation of the institutional advantages of socialism in concentrating its efforts on major events and the party’s advantages in consolidating social consensus.

It is a phased strategic goal. However, economic and social development has certain objective laws. In particular, Chinese society will still be in the primary stage of socialism for a long time, and there are major social contradictions of unbalanced and insufficient development. The contradictions are mainly concentrated in agriculture and rural areas, because the development of urban and rural areas is the most unbalanced, Rural development is the least adequate, and the group most affected by imbalances and inadequacies is farmers. Whether agriculture is strong or not, whether rural areas are beautiful or not, and whether farmers are rich or not, determines the quality, fineness and background of comprehensive modernization. 

Rural Revitalization With Chinese Characteristics

Towards the second centenary goal

At the historical juncture toward the second centenary goal, to build a modern socialist country in an all-round way and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the broadest and deepest foundation is still in the countryside, and the most arduous and arduous tasks are still in the countryside, so as to promote the domestic cycle The most arduous task of realizing the expansion of domestic demand is also in the countryside.

Therefore, the No. 1 Central Document in 2021 further clearly puts forward a major development theme related to the overall situation, “the nation must be rejuvenated, and the countryside must be rejuvenated”. As a strategic backyard, “Sannong”** is not only the ballast stone and stabilizer for the development of the national economy, but also the core link and power source of the dual-cycle strategy to form a strong domestic market.
[** Sannong, or “the Three Rural Issues”, refers to three issues relating to rural development in mainland China: agriculture, rural areas and farmers.] 

Only by comprehensively promoting rural revitalization can we fully release and cultivate the consumption demand of the vast majority of rural residents, so as to adhere to the strategic basis of expanding domestic demand, effectively activate the biggest difficulty and the biggest space in the domestic demand system, and effectively unblock the domestic circulation. 

The core task is to reshape the relationship between urban and rural areas in accordance with the requirements of prioritizing the development of agriculture and rural areas, to solve the problems of the times such as unbalanced urban and rural development and insufficient rural development, and to meet the requirements of the times when the main social contradictions are changing.

A realistic approach to rural revitalization

Taking building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way as a new starting point, and advancing from the goal of solving the problem of absolute poverty to the goal of comprehensively promoting rural revitalization, it is advancing from quantitative change to qualitative change. Therefore, it is necessary to give full play to the advantages of the market in optimizing the allocation of factors, to open up the blocking points in urban and rural areas from production, distribution, circulation, consumption, etc., so that rural factors can be activated in the market economy.

We must focus on eliminating the dual structure of urban and rural areas, build a community of shared future for urban and rural areas in the promotion of urban-rural integrated development, and promote more extensive and fair sharing of urban and rural rights and interests for farmers, so that the whole society can share the fruits of rural revitalization in the joint promotion of rural revitalization, and realize common prosperity in urban and rural areas. To achieve this we must:

1. Promote the integrated development of urban and rural areas with county reform as the driving force to realize the high-quality life of farmers. 

The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposed that counties should be regarded as an important entry point for the integrated development of urban and rural areas. To speed up the integrated development of urban and rural areas within the county, it is necessary to promote continuous new breakthroughs in rural reform, mainly to achieve key breakthroughs in breaking the dual structure of urban and rural areas, and to protect and continuously enhance the interests of farmers. 

On the one hand, with the increase of farmers’ income as the core, a reform and empowerment policy system has been established in terms of rural contracted land, rural homestead, rural collective property rights, agricultural and rural financial investment, rural finance, and rural public infrastructure management and protection. On the other hand, comprehensively establish and improve the urban and rural income distribution system, rural service system, urban and rural settlement distribution system, and rural social security system. In this way, farmers can share more extensive and fair rights and interests in urban and rural areas, and the whole society can share the results of rural revitalization in the joint action of rural revitalization, so that the “concentric circles” of rural revitalization can become a converter for optimizing resource elements and gathering social forces.

2. Take the structural reform of the agricultural supply side as the orientation to ensure national food security and achieve high-quality agricultural development. 

The core industry in the countryside is agriculture, the most important goal is to ensure national food security, and the most prominent problem is the low overall efficiency and competitiveness. To accelerate the high-quality development of agriculture, we must focus on deepening the structural reform of the agricultural supply side, promote the transformation and upgrading of the agricultural supply structure, improve the quality of agricultural products in the production process, increase the market value of agricultural products in the processing process, and unblock the circulation channels of agricultural products in the sales process. The supply structure of agricultural production continuously meets the demand structure of market consumption, solves the structural contradiction between oversupply and undersupply in agricultural production, and forms an agricultural production layout with distinctive regional characteristics, reasonable regional division of labor, and high-quality and efficient development.

3. The principle of adhering to the main role of farmers is to stimulate the inner vitality of the countryside and realize the efficient governance of the countryside. 

The strategic transformation from poverty alleviation to rural revitalization requires a strategic transformation from external “blood transfusion” to internal “hematopoiesis”. The key is to stimulate the endogenous power of the countryside. In order to achieve the strategic goal of “strong agriculture, beautiful countryside, and rich farmers” in rural revitalization, from the perspective of enhancing the sense of gain of the majority of farmers and adapting to the development stage, we must adhere to the main role of farmers, and reasonably set stage goals and tasks and work priorities. Only by focusing on solving the most direct and realistic interests of the peasants can we fully mobilize the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the peasants. 

The interests of the greatest number of people are the most important and decisive factor, which is the basic viewpoint of Marxism; adherence to the people-centered development thought is the fundamental position of Marxist political economy. Farmers are the bearers of rural revitalization, the beneficiaries of rural revitalization, and the measurer of the effect of rural revitalization. If farmers are not motivated, rural revitalization will inevitably be difficult to achieve. 

Only by implementing the most basic and extensive social development of “people-centered” into the main role of farmers in rural revitalization can the masses of peasants become the real main body of China’s rural revitalization, and can the enthusiasm of farmers be stimulated to become the main body of rural revitalization. endogenous driving force to create a life that truly belongs to farmers. Therefore, in terms of development power, we must be based on improving farmers’ well-being, safeguarding farmers’ material interests, respecting farmers’ democratic rights, and realizing “the party’s leading force, the government’s driving force, the market’s driving force, and farmers’ creativity” in terms of power mechanism. The new mechanism of the “troika” of “government-led, farmers’ main body, and social main force” is established to promote rural revitalization that realizes the all-round development of farmers and all-round social progress. ■

SOURCE: Chinese Voices, No. 30, 23.01.2022.
Dongsheng (Eastern Voices) is an international collective of researchers dedicated to understanding Chinese politics and society in a way that is not dominated by narratives from the Global North.

Full article: Originally published by Pangu Think Tank, 2021-09-05.

The Author: Chen Wensheng(陈文胜). Dean of the China Rural Revitalization Research Institute of Hunan Normal University, and a member of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ rural vitalization advisory committee.

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