A new central government rural agency was unveiled on Thursday, marking a shift in China's rural policies from poverty alleviation toward rural vitalization.
Seen as the latest development in China's rural policies, the agency, the national administration for rural vitalization, comes after China achieved a complete victory in its fight against absolute poverty and shows the Chinese government will now focus on rural vitalization.
Early in December, participants in a central rural work conference concluded that after securing victory in poverty alleviation, China should push forward with rural vitalization in an all-round way as "a historic shift" of focus for agriculture, rural areas and farmers.
China's first policy statement for 2021 released Sunday stressed efforts to "comprehensively push forward rural vitalization." Dubbed as the "No.1 central document," it indicated China's rural priorities and the direction for China's rural development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).
Through rural vitalization, China is seeking to consolidate on the successes of its poverty alleviation.
During the last eight years, China has made great achievements with poverty alleviation. China has lifted 98.99 million rural residents out of poverty, with all 832 impoverished counties and 128,000 impoverished villages removed from the poverty list.
Being lifted out of absolute poverty is not an end, but a starting point for a new life. China still faces problems caused by unbalanced and inadequate development. China's rural vitalization strategy includes vigorous measures to prevent rural residents from falling back into poverty.
The goal of rural vitalization is highly consistent with the main goal and path of poverty alleviation, but the standard requirements are much higher, according to Ke Bingsheng, a member of the expert advisory committee on rural vitalization of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
China prioritizes rural vitalization because of its vast population. To feed 1.4 billion mouths, among which around 550 million are in rural areas, agriculture is the foundation of the world's largest developing country.
China has maintained a stable grain output of 650 billion kilos per year during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period and farmers' incomes have more than doubled since 2010. In 2020, China also saw a bumper harvest and steady growth in farmers' incomes despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rural vitalization tends to provide more development opportunities for rural residents. Taking rural tourism, a crucial part of rural vitalization, as an example, a total 3.3 billion trips were made to rural areas in 2019, generating revenue exceeding 850 billion yuan (about $132 billion) in China's rural tourism sector. In the middle of last year, China made public a list of 680 key villages for promoting rural tourism.
Like China's feat of poverty alleviation, rural vitalization will not only benefit rural Chinese residents but also contribute to world rural development.
China's victory on poverty alleviation has already been seen as an encouraging sign for the world, which still has 700 million people living in extreme poverty.
Another reason for China's rural vitalization strategy is to realize "the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."
According to the "No.1 central document," China will make the comprehensive advancement of rural vitalization a major task in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.