China’s “No. 1 central document” for 2023 was revealed on Monday, highlighting nine tasks to comprehensively promote rural vitalization. The document emphasizes the importance of “agriculture, rural areas and farmers” as the bedrock for building a modern socialist country and aims to accelerate agricultural and rural modernization to make China an agricultural powerhouse. This policy statement is traditionally the first released by China’s central authorities each year and is a crucial indicator of policy priorities. Agriculture and rural development have been high on the agenda for 20 consecutive years since 2004.
Not only does the document provide comprehensive guidance on promoting rural vitalization, but it also presents specific measures to accelerate China’s agricultural strength. A crucial task highlighted is the enhancement of agriculture through scientific and technological advancements.
The document highlights the need to make significant strides in key agricultural technologies, establish agricultural research centers and innovation hubs, fortify long-term observation and experimentation in agriculture, fast-track the development of large-scale intelligent agricultural machinery and equipment, rejuvenate the seed industry, and establish a sharing mechanism for precise identification and evaluation of seed resources.
Furthermore, the document advocates for the sustainable development of agriculture, establishing a collection, utilization, and treatment system for agricultural waste, and a monitoring system for agro-ecological environment protection, enacting regulations on compensation for ecological protection, imposing a strict ban on fishing, and intensifying efforts to protect and restore grasslands.
The document also stresses the significance of agricultural infrastructure, emphasizing the protection of cultivated land, controlling the conversion of cultivated land to other agricultural land, and enhancing the utilization of abandoned farmland. It also recommends advancing significant water conservancy projects, accelerating national water conservancy network construction, and strengthening the country’s ability to mitigate natural disasters in agriculture through meteorological observation and disease and pest monitoring.
To ensure stable production and adequate supply of grain and other critical agricultural products, the document emphasizes efforts to maintain annual grain production over 650 billion kilograms, expand the acreage of soybeans and oil crops, and develop modern facilities for agriculture.
The document places great emphasis on the continuation and expansion of poverty alleviation achievements, with a strong focus on preventing a large-scale return to poverty. Efforts to accelerate development in impoverished areas and narrow the income and development gaps between rich and less affluent regions are imperative.
Notably, the document recognizes the importance of cultivating industries and businesses that make the most of local strengths. Over 30 million people who have risen out of poverty will be employed, and more than 60% of the central government subsidies for rural vitalization will be directed towards local industry development.
The significance of government policies for impoverished individuals and areas is also highlighted, with a commitment to monitor and evaluate development results in key poor counties, provide credit to recently lifted individuals, and increase financial support for assistance projects.
Further, deepening coordination between economically developed and less-developed regions is key to consolidating poverty alleviation achievements. Counties that have successfully lifted themselves out of poverty can develop labor-intensive industries that have been transferred from the eastern regions.
As China transitions into a post-extreme poverty era in 2020, the country will focus on studying mechanisms to regularly assist low-income rural individuals and less-developed areas.
The document emphasizes the importance of enhancing the rural governance system to create a beautiful and harmonious countryside. This can be achieved by strengthening the political and organizational functions of rural grassroots Party organizations through training, improving leadership abilities, and increasing responsibility for rural revitalization. To ensure this, regular inspections will be conducted to crack down on corruption and work style problems.
In addition, the development of rural personnel is crucial for rural revitalization. The government will organize and guide talents in various sectors to serve at the grassroots level, support the training of local talents, and implement programs to train farmers and develop vocational education for rural areas. The incentive mechanism for urban professionals to provide regular services in rural areas will also be improved.
Improving basic public services in rural areas is also crucial, especially for weak links. This can be achieved through promoting balanced development of compulsory education, implementing living allowances for rural teachers, pooling medical and health resources, and improving medical care for key groups. The document also emphasizes the importance of deepening rural social work services, including accelerating the construction of senior service centers and strengthening protection for rural minors.