SCIO briefing on advancement of rural vitalization across the board and acceleration of agricultural and rural modernization
Beijing | 10 a.m. Feb. 22, 2021

The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on Monday about issues on advancement of rural vitalization across the board and acceleration of agricultural and rural modernization.


Tang Renjian, director of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs and minister of agriculture and rural affairs

Zhang Taolin, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs

Wu Hongyao, a member of the CPC Leading Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and director of the Secretariat of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group


Chen Wenjun, head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO

Read in Chinese


Tang Renjian, director of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs, and minister of agriculture and rural affairs

Zhang Taolin, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs 

Wu Hongyao, a member of the CPC Leading Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and director of the Secretariat of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group


Chen Wenjun, head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO 


Feb. 22, 2021

Chen Wenjun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning! The Opinion of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Advancing Rural Vitalization Across the Board and Accelerating Agricultural and Rural Modernization, or the "No. 1 Central Document," was released recently. To help people more accurately understand this important document, today we have invited Mr. Tang Renjian, director of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs and minister of agriculture and rural affairs, to brief you and answer your questions. We also have with us Zhang Taolin, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, and Wu Hongyao, a member of the CPC Leading Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and director of the Secretariat of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group.

Next, I will give the floor to Mr. Tang.

Tang Renjian:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning! As the Spring Festival has recently concluded and farm work resumes, Xinhua News Agency yesterday released the Opinion of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Advancing Rural Vitalization Across the Board and Accelerating Agricultural and Rural Modernization, or the "No. 1 Central Document" in 2021. This has been the 18th No. 1 Central Document released by the CPC Central Committee in succession since the beginning of the new century, sending Spring Festival "policy" gifts for the Year of the Ox to the vast rural population. It is my pleasure to briefly introduce the document to you all. 

I. Background

Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China overcame tough challenges caused by COVID-19 and maintained the momentum of steady and sound agricultural and rural development in 2020. This has contributed to the accomplishment of all the goals set in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). In particular, substantial progress was made in the following aspects. First, agricultural production capacity increased to a new level. Last year was the sixth consecutive year that national grain output exceeded 650 million metric tons; the science and technology contribution to agricultural growth surpassed 60%; improved varieties were used in the production of nearly all major crops; 71% of plowing, sowing and harvesting were mechanized; and the amount of agrochemicals applied declined for four years in a row. Second, a decisive victory was won in the battle against poverty. All people classed as impoverished by current standards were lifted out of poverty, and the 832 poor counties were removed from the national list. As a result, China has successfully eradicated absolute poverty and region-wide poverty, creating a miracle in the history of poverty reduction. Third, the income of rural residents registered continuous and rapid growth. The income of rural residents has grown faster than urban residents for 11 successive years. The urban-rural income gap narrowed from 2.64:1 in 2019 to 2.56:1 in 2020. The per capita income of rural residents doubled that of 2010 one year ahead of schedule. Fourth, rural areas took on a fresh look. Rural living conditions improved significantly, while weak areas such as infrastructure and public services were strengthened at a faster pace. With rural reforms gaining momentum, more vigorous drivers have been forged for rural development. New and historic achievements in agriculture and rural areas have laid a solid foundation for completing the task of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects as scheduled.

Riding on the momentum of earlier success, we have entered the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), which marks the first five years on a new journey toward the second centenary goal of fully building a modern socialist China. The 5th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee also made strategic arrangements for prioritizing agricultural and rural development and advancing rural vitalization. While addressing the Central Rural Work Conference at the end of last year, General Secretary Xi Jinping sent a clear signal to all CPC members and the whole of society: Along the new journey, work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers ("sannong" work) remains a crucial matter that cannot be neglected and requires hard work. Taking into account both domestic and international dynamics, General Secretary Xi pointed out that national rejuvenation calls for rural vitalization, and keeping "sannong" fundamentals stable will anchor efforts to address changes in a new landscape. He stressed that, in our endeavor to fully build a modern socialist China and to realize national rejuvenation, rural areas hold the most challenging and arduous tasks, but also the most formidable and broad-based strength to tap into. Such important remarks have identified the path which should be taken and the principles to follow while drafting the No. 1 Central Document and continuing with "sannong" work in the new development stage.


II. Overview

This year's No. 1 Central Document was prepared in line with the remarks of General Secretary Xi Jinping and outcomes of the 5th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. It aims to advance rural vitalization and accelerate agricultural and rural modernization by providing guidance on all work related to agriculture, rural areas and rural people. It consists of 26 articles in five parts. The key points can be summarized into "two ensured aspects, two well-started aspects and one strengthened aspect."

The "two ensured aspects" are the consolidation of the outcomes of the poverty eradication program and food security. The document highlights the importance of a transitional period for the smooth progression from poverty eradication to rural vitalization, and ensuring that large-scale poverty does not ever reappear. It also calls on provincial-level governments to maintain the acreage of grain planting and increase yields to ensure a constant annual production of 650 million-plus metric tons in the 14th Five-Year Plan period.

The "two well-started aspects" refer to making a good start in agricultural and rural modernization. In terms of agricultural modernization, China will strive to address two critical issues of seeds and arable land, strengthen the development of modern agricultural science and technology and farming equipment, build a modern rural industry system and agricultural operation system, and push for green development. In terms of rural modernization, under the framework of the rural development program, China will launch a number of key projects and activities to improve rural residents' living environment and access to infrastructure and public services, boost rural consumption, and promote urban-rural integration at the county level.

The "one strengthened aspect" refers to strengthening the CPC's comprehensive leadership on work regarding agriculture, rural areas and rural people. The document sets out specific requirements to enhance Party leadership on and work mechanisms for rural affairs and strengthen community-level Party building and governance in rural areas. It also stresses the need to ensure the input for prioritized development of agriculture and rural areas.

It is fair to say that the document is both timely and visionary. On one hand, it is firmly grounded in current realities by laying out tasks that must be completed this year. On the other hand, it is of strategic significance and shows the direction by specifying considerations and priorities for the 14th Five-Year Plan period. In conclusion, it serves both as a set of instructions for this year and a blueprint for the next five years.

That's all for my introduction. Now, my colleagues and I will take any questions you might have. Thank you.

Chen Wenjun:

The floor is open for questions. Please identify your news outlet before asking your question. Thank you.



Food prices generally rose last year and many countries around the world have tightened grain control in their favor. Given that societies are very concerned about food security issues, what is the current food security situation in China? What measures have been taken to ensure food security this year? Thank you. 

Tang Renjian:

Thank you for your question. Your first question regarding food issues references how all sectors of society are very concerned about this issue, so I will answer this question first. 

At the central rural work conference last year, General Secretary Xi Jinping made it clear that food security is the greatest priority for our country. Of all matters that concern the people, food security is the greatest. For a country like China with a population of 1.4 billion, ensuring food security is a constant, and I think we can never stress this enough. China has seen bumper harvests for several years in a row. Last year it reached 669.5 billion kilos, a record high, and an increase of more than 5 billion kilos compared to the previous year. The country's grain inventory is currently very abundant, so whether it is regarding production, sales, or inventory, I can report that China's food security is completely guaranteed and we can secure our rice bowls. In response to the COVID-19 epidemic last year, grain and all-important subsidiary agricultural products were well-produced, supplied, and sold. We withstood the big test. 

However, on the other hand, we must also realize that the situation of food supply and demand in China has always been tightly balanced. In the future 14th Five-Year Plan period, or a longer period of time, as the population continues to grow, especially with the upgrade of consumption, the demand for food will increase steadily. At the same time, external uncertainties and instabilities will also increase significantly. So on the issue of food security, we must not take it lightly and we must also make our outlook as secure as possible, produce as much grain as possible, and store more food. We also need to counter external uncertainties by stabilizing domestic production and supply, so that when we truly have food in our hands, we feel safe in our hearts. 

General Secretary Xi Jinping has emphasized that we need to tightly grasp food security initiatives, that the awareness of food security can't be keener, and that food production must be prioritized every year. His words fully demonstrate how food security plays an extremely important role in the overall strategic situation and the big picture of China's overall development and security. To ensure food security, the focus is to do well in the "two storings," that is, "storing grain in the ground and storing grain in technology." This is the material basis for ensuring national food security. Farmland is the lifeblood of food production. Without farmland, there is no food. In the next step, we will take hard measures to implement the most stringent farmland protection system, resolutely curb the "non-agriculturalization" of cultivated land and prevent the "non-grainization" of cultivated land, and firmly maintain the red line of 1.8 billion mu of arable land, and at the same time ensure that 1.55 billion mu of permanent basic farmland is planted with annual crops such as grains, melons, and vegetables. In addition, we must ensure that the planned 1.075 billion mu of high-standard farmland will be built and we must work hard to produce food. Speaking of high-standard farmland, this is a key tool for us to improve soil fertility and increase yield. Specifically, it is used to improve the standards and quality of construction to ensure that one season can produce 500kg of grain, while two seasons can produce 1 ton on such farmland. This is the high standard. At the same time, we should protect and make good use of black land, the gold standard of cultivated land, and we should especially preserve and build the northeast of China as the country's leading large granary. China only has finite land and water resources, therefore, the fundamental way to increase food production is to rely on science and technology for yields and benefits, insist on self-reliance in agricultural science and technology, and be determined to promote the food production industry and use modern agricultural technologies and material equipment to strengthen the support of food security. 

At the same time, we must also establish a mechanism guarantee of "two supplements," which is supplement by benefits and supplement by obligations. "Supplement by benefits" refers to allowing farmers to make additional profits from growing grain and to adhere to and improve agricultural prices and subsidy policies in terms of policy measures. "Supplement by obligations" is to consolidate the obligations and responsibilities of local Party committees and governments on food security. Therefore, this central rural work conference and the "No. 1 central document" both specify that the next step is to implement the same responsibility shared by the Party and government for food security, which builds on each provincial governor's responsibility system we stressed previously. Through these efforts, we will ensure that sown areas and output of grain in various provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) can remain stable and continue to increase if conditions permit. 

To ensure supply, we must not only ensure the quantity but also consider ensuring diversity and quality as the next step. That's because maintaining diversity and quality simultaneously is not only to meet the needs of our market demand but also to increase farmers' income and improve agricultural efficiency. Therefore, we must further the supply side structural reform in agriculture, make it detailed and solid, and adjust and optimize the agricultural production structure, including the regional layout and product structure. We must also promote the cultivation of good varieties of produce, improve quality, build brands, and standardize production. This strategy was mentioned by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the central rural work conference. We understand that it means providing additional varieties of agricultural products at better quality, via smoother sales channels, with better profits, which can better meet the diversified consumption needs of urban and rural residents. Thank you. 


Red Star News:

The seeds are the "microchips" of agriculture, and the central government vows to "fight a turnaround" in the seed industry. I would like to ask how is China's seed industry situation right now and how will you "fight a turnaround" in the seed industry? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

Your question is timely and to the point. I will be pleased to answer this question but as Mr. Zhang Taolin is responsible for the relevant work related to this issue, I would like to invite him to answer first.

Zhang Taolin:

Just now, Mr. Tang said that the way to ensure food security is to effectively implement a food crop production strategy based on farmland management and technological application. In terms of grain storage technology, the seed industry, including seed scientific research, is the most important aspect. The seed industry is the foundation of agricultural modernization and stands at the base of the entire agricultural industrial chain. Seeds are a vital part of ensuring food security, as is arable land. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have paid significant attention to this issue; so do all sectors of society. Especially in recent times, the development, overall situation, and the future work of the seed industry have been a source of much concern. At the annual Central Economic Work Conference, the central government proposed to "fight a turnaround" in the seed industry. The just-released "No. 1 central document" for 2021 unveils a comprehensive arrangement for the future work of the seed industry. This is a key decision in the CPC Central Committee's policy deployment, as well as a significant initiative to ensure food security and consolidate the foundation of the seed industry to accelerate agricultural and rural modernization and improve people's livelihoods.

As to the development of the seed industry, generally speaking, we can guarantee the security of agricultural use of seeds and control its risks. Especially since the 18th CPC National Congress, the science and technology and industrial development of the seed industry has achieved significant results. Currently, China is self-sufficient in agricultural products seeds, especially grain seeds. The planting area of agricultural grain varieties independently selected by China accounts for more than 95% of the total planted area, mainly meeting the goal of "Chinese grain depends on Chinese seeds." The provenances of some characteristics of aquatic products, poultry, and livestock such as pigs, cattle, and sheep, are guaranteed to be based in China. At present, the self-sufficiency rate of core provenances of livestock and poultry, as well as aquatic products have reached 75% and 85%, respectively. All of these have provided essential guarantees and support for stable production and assured the supply of grain and important agricultural and sideline products.

Regarding the current situation of the seed industry, in the new development stage, China is working to foster a new development paradigm. We should note that, compared with the internationally advanced standards, there are still many areas of inflexibility and weak links in the seed industry, which urgently need us to create means to handle these issues.

First, there is a distinct gap in agricultural breeds. We all know that the per unit area yield of Chinese soybeans and corn is still not high; less than 60% of that of the US. The planting area of foreign vegetable varieties accounts for 13% of the total area. Of course, different varieties achieve different proportions. Among them, the import ratio of a few special varieties such as storable tomatoes and sweet peppers is relatively high, exceeding 50%. The efficiency of pig reproduction, feed conversion rate, and cows' annual milk yields are only about 80% of the advanced international level, especially of the white-feathered broiler, whose breeding hens are mostly imported. The development level of these breeds is directly related to the quality, speed, and benefit of the development of China's agriculture-related industries.

Second, the problem also exists within the seed industry itself. This issue mainly manifests in the insufficient protection and utilization of agricultural germplasm resources. Some local or rare germplasm varieties are at risk of extinction. Our independent innovation capacity is not strong, especially regarding theory and key and core breeding technologies. There remains a relatively large gap in advanced levels. The innovative competitiveness of seed companies is still weak. Some of them are overlapping projects, or projects of sub-scale, fragmented, with low yields.

Third, we need to take action to keep abreast of the times. The requirements to ensure domestic food and seed security of important agricultural products have become urgent. The diversified demands of agricultural products grow continuously when people pursue a better life. We lack high-quality species and products with special functions and we must cultivate more high-yield, high-quality, water-saving, feed-saving, and machine-friendly (suitable for mechanization), professional, and fine varieties. At present, the world's seed industry is embracing a scientific and technological revolution in modern biological breeding marked by technology integration development such as gene editing, synthetic biology, and artificial intelligence. Facing this situation, we should grasp the opportunity, accelerate innovation, and "fight a turnaround," to achieve leapfrog development in the seed industry.


Zhang Taolin:

What will we do next? The No. 1 central document has provided top-level and systematic planning to "fight to create a turnaround" in the seed industry, covering all areas from the protection of agricultural germplasm resources, scientific research and development on seed breeding, to overall management of the seed market. In general, we must stay alert against potential risks and focus on solving problems to ensure national food security and the quantity, variety and quality of major agricultural and sideline products. Meanwhile, we should follow the law of development in seed industry innovation to resolve bottlenecks, address inadequacies and further strengthen advantages. Specifically, we will carry out our work in the following five aspects.

First, we must protect our agricultural germplasm resources, which are the source of sci-tech innovation in the seed industry. We will intensify efforts to investigate and collect germplasm resources of crops, livestock and poultry, and aquatic products. Such fundamental work must be carried out well. We will also conduct accurate resource assessment and evaluation. A national germplasm resource bank will be established and a system for the protection and utilization of its resources will be established and improved.  

Second, we must promote independent innovation, which is a key factor for development of a sound seed industry. We will step up efforts for breakthroughs in core technologies. It is especially important to accelerate the implementation of major scientific and technological projects in modern agricultural biological breeding, deepen efforts in joint research on the development of crops, livestock and poultry, and take orderly steps to promote the industrial application of bio-breeding. Meanwhile, we should strengthen basic and advanced research. In particular, we will advance the construction of innovation centers such as Nanfan Silicon Valley.

Third, we must develop strong seed enterprises, which are key entities of sci-tech development as well as development of the overall seed industry. We will select a batch of superior enterprises and focus on providing them with strong support. Reforms to streamline administration and delegate power, improve regulation and upgrade services will be intensified. We will also pool resources from enterprises, universities, and research institutes; promote the cultivation, reproduction and dissemination of superior crop strains, and establish a sound commercial system for breeding. 

Fourth, we must upgrade agricultural breeding centers as the foundation for safeguarding our germplasm resources. We will develop modernized seed cultivation and production centers, national livestock and poultry breeding centers, and centers for cultivating original and superior aquaculture varieties. We will also improve the system of emergency support for superior varieties supply.

Fifth, we must optimize the market environment, which provides guarantees for innovation of the seed industry. To ensure a clean seed market environment, I think the key is to strengthen intellectual property rights protection, which requires innovation protection, strict product variety management and market supervision.

In general, we will accelerate the establishment of an innovative system in the seed industry, consisting of a system for the protection and utilization of germplasm resources, an industrial system and a governance system. We will also comprehensively raise our capacities of independent innovation, enterprise competition, seed supply support and law-based governance. That's all for my answer. Thank you. 

Tang Renjian:

The situation of China's seed market and seed industry is not as severe as people outside China expected recently. On the other hand, we do lag behind international advanced level in some varieties, areas and links. To sum up, there is no problem for us with the supply of some varieties essential to human survival. However, for many superior varieties, we do have a long way to go. What shall we do next? Our answer is to "fight to create a turnaround" in the seed industry.


Cover News:

The price of pork has always been a central issue in people's lives. We have noticed that prices have been rising recently. What has the ministry done to ensure the production and supply of market pigs? Will people be able to eat cheaper pork this year? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

The price of agricultural products, and especially the price of "vegetable basket" products, has always been of great concern to consumers, and a central issue in people's lives. Since last year, we have been taking various measures to support the restoration of hog production capacity, and stabilize the production and market supply of hogs. According to the original plan, by the end of last year, the hog inventory was to be returned to that of normal years, in other words, 80% of the level in 2017. By the end of last year, the inventory had returned to more than 92%, which was 12 percentage points higher than expected. Therefore, recently, and especially before and after the "two festivals" (New Year's Day and Chinese New Year), there has not been such a substantial increase as in the previous period. At present, the overall momentum of market supply and demand remains good.

Going forward, as the newly increased hog production capacity gradually turns into pork production, the tensest period of pork market supply has now passed, and the relationship between supply and demand will become more and more relaxed. It is estimated that in the first quarter of this year, around March, the pig population will be around 40% higher than it was during the same period last year. By the second quarter, or around June, the hog inventory will have returned to the normal level of 2017. In the second half of the year, market pigs slaughtered and pork supply will gradually return to the normal annual level.

This year's No. 1 central document attaches great importance to this issue, and requires the protection of hog production capacity and improvements to the long-term mechanism for the stable and orderly development of the pig industry. Therefore, we should not only focus on the current recovery, but also on stable, long-term production. We are very familiar with the hog cycle. We were thrown off course by this cycle, and cannot let this happen again in the future. For that reason, we are now studying and considering — in addition to comprehensive measures — how to preserve the hog production capacity. When there is large supply, prices are low, and some enterprises cannot pay their bills, effective measures are needed to prevent the enterprises from killing sows and cutting the size of their pig farms. We should focus on this key task to preserve production capacity and manage the hog cycle. We will closely monitor the dynamics of production development, and be quick to introduce specific measures to stabilize and preserve production capacity, so as to ensure the stable development of the pig industry.

I would also like to mention something I observed during my travels to Beijing, Tianjin and other places before the Spring Festival to inspect the production and promotion of the "vegetable basket." The first impression at that time was that generally, we felt satisfied that although many people stayed where they worked during the Spring Festival holiday, the growth of production was sufficient. We were also thinking of various ways to break through blockage points in the market. But on the other hand, we saw that the price of some items had fallen, such as eggs, which dropped to around 8 yuan per kg, and the cost is 8 yuan per kg. Therefore, the price of agricultural products, including "vegetable basket" products, should not be as low as possible, because if the price is too low, farmers will no longer be able to produce them and the next cycle will be full of fluctuations. Therefore, we should work to find a balance of interests. Thank you.


Recently we have seen that vegetable prices have been increasing to varying degrees in some places, and people are very concerned about their "vegetable baskets." I'd like to ask the ministry about the production, supply and market trends of "vegetable basket" products. Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

This is quite a comprehensive issue. As I just answered the question on pork, I'll let Mr. Zhang Taolin take this question. 

Zhang Taolin:

The "vegetable basket" is indeed closely related to the livelihood of the people. Just now, Mr. Tang answered the question on pork. I would like to answer the question on vegetables.

Vegetable production is quite seasonal, especially during March and April when winter and spring vegetables rotate to summer vegetables, and the number and variety of vegetables available on the market decrease and prices rise relatively, which is what we usually refer to the "off-season of spring." Affected by the previous cold wave and low temperatures as well as rising production and distribution costs and other factors, vegetable prices have recently increased in some areas. I believe this is still a seasonal and regular fluctuation.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) has set up a special work team to stabilize the yield and guarantee the supply of products in the "vegetable basket." First, we have strengthened monitoring of the production and prices. Second, we have organized experts and agricultural technicians at all levels to provide timely technical guidance to ensure the steady production of vegetables. Third, we have guided localities to select and identify some reserve bases for emergency vegetable supplies, set up hotlines, and strengthen production and marketing coordination to resolve prominent problems and remove the barriers of production.

Under our current arrangements, the planting acreage of winter and spring vegetables nationwide is 85 million mu (about 5.67 million hectares), an increase of 1 million mu compared with previous years. Especially since last November, the average monthly volume of vegetable products for sale on the market has remained more than 54 million tons, up 2% year on year. Fluctuations in weather are relatively large currently. As it gets warmer, vegetable production will gradually enter its peak season. Therefore, based on previous trends, the production capacity and supply of main vegetable varieties can be guaranteed. It is also expected that prices will follow the trends of seasonal fluctuation as defined by regular production years and feature a general downward trend.

Next, we will continue to step up efforts to stabilize yields and guarantee the supply of the vegetables. We will guide localities promptly to coordinate epidemic prevention and control and vegetable production to ensure that vegetables can be produced and supplied as needed. Thank you.


China Review News Agency:

2020 was the final year in the poverty alleviation campaign. All 832 poverty-stricken counties in China have been lifted out of poverty but some of them are still at the risk of falling back into poverty. Going forward, the key is to ensure the smooth transition from consolidating and expanding the achievements in poverty alleviation to rural revitalization. What are the plans and detailed measures in this regard? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

In addition to food security, this issue is another major concern of all parties both at present and in the future. MARA has proposed a "two-ensured-aspects" approach to this year's work and during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025). One goal is to ensure a constant annual grain production of 650 million-plus tons and the other is to ensure that no large-scale poverty ever appears again. I think this answers your question.

General Secretary Xi Jinping has reminded us long before that being lifted out of poverty is not an end in itself but the starting point of a new life and a new pursuit. After the tasks of poverty alleviation in the new era are fulfilled, work related to agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents should shift to comprehensively promote rural revitalization. The central government calls for consolidating and expanding the gains in poverty alleviation to make a smooth transition to rural revival. The bottom line mentioned above is to ensure that large-scale poverty doesn't occur ever again. People living in poverty-stricken areas have cast off poverty, which means that their living requirements for food and clothing have been largely met and they have access to compulsory education, medical care, and housing. Nonetheless, the foundation of their development, especially their capacities for self-development, is not strong, and the basis of their industries — and fundamental support — is not that solid. Hence, consolidating the outcomes of poverty alleviation and preventing falling back into poverty remains an important task. This year and during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, we require that priority be given to the smooth transition of consolidating and expanding the achievements in poverty eradication to rural revitalization. We will continue to fully perform our duties and ensure that there is no gap in our work and policies.

The general requirement is to set a five-year transition period from the date of eradicating poverty in those counties that have ended poverty. General Secretary Xi Jinping and this year's No. 1 central document require that major policies should be stable on the whole and at the same time be adjusted and optimized on a case-by-case and classified basis to give counties a leg up to get them going. To be specific, the key for those counties that have been lifted out of poverty is to make efforts in dynamic monitoring and assistance to prevent them from falling back into poverty. There is only one request: early detection, early intervention, and early assistance because if there is no detection, action will come too late. Industrial assistance is still the fundamental way to help people alleviate poverty and consolidate relevant achievements. We need to focus on this key point and continue to strengthen it. The main approach is to reinforce the weak points, including technology, facilities, and capital, so that the industries that have aided poverty reduction can be upgraded. To provide follow-up support to the 9.6 million people relocated from inhospitable areas, the key is to still develop industries to boost employment and increase incomes and make them better-off as soon as possible. Meanwhile, efforts should also be made to improve infrastructure and provide public services, to help relocated citizens integrate into their new communities. In addition, we need to enhance regular assistance to low-income people in rural areas, who sit just above or under the poverty line. 

We will make areas that have cast off poverty a priority in rural revitalization and give them greater support. An important measure we need to adopt is to continue identifying priority counties in the western region that need assistance in terms of rural revitalization. We will focus our support on fiscal and financial services, land, human resources, infrastructure, and public services, etc. In addition, we will also encourage localities to select some priority counties themselves to receive rural revival support.

Ensuring no large-scale poverty occurs ever again is the bottom line, and we need to promote a steady transformation of the work system as well. In the fight against poverty, relevant central government departments have issued more than 200 policy documents, forming an effective policy and work system regarding organization and mobilization; factors in production guarantees, policy support, coordination, and assistance; and assessment and supervision, among other areas. Since the goals of poverty alleviation have been achieved, we need to adapt to the shift of work focus to comprehensively promote rural revitalization and promote effective coordination between the poverty reduction work system and that of the revitalization to gradually realize the smooth transition from focusing on poverty alleviation to comprehensively promoting rural revitalization. Thank you.


Phoenix TV:

The fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee has noted that China will implement an action plan for rural construction. What are the priorities of the rural construction initiative and what are the construction ideas? Thank you.

Wu Hongyao:

I'm glad to answer this question. In the process of rapid industrialization and urbanization the shape of the countryside is rapidly evolving and the village pattern is being transformed and reshaped. What kind of villages to build and how to build them are questions of the times that we are facing and must answer. As you've mentioned, the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee has noted that China will take actions to develop rural areas, and stressed that the construction of the countryside should be placed in an important position in the construction of socialist modernization. This year's "No.1 Central Document" has also made comprehensive plans in this regard. Just now Mr. Tang stressed that works should be done this year to ensure a good start in agricultural and rural modernization. Specifically, to properly plan and carry out the rural development program is one of the important tasks for rural modernization. The rural development program should include both hardware and software. The hardware is to strengthen the infrastructure of rural areas, and the software is to strengthen public services in rural areas. In the meantime, efforts should also be made to promote the integrated development of urban and rural areas. I would like to talk about the specific deployment of the rural construction action from the following four aspects.

First, construction plans for rural areas should be formulated. Rural planning is the blueprint for rural construction. Without planning, houses will be built disorderly and there will be illegal appropriation of land, which will cost a lot of administrative efforts. Therefore, planning should always take priority before the construction begins, so as to properly determine the pattern of villages. Villages with advantages and needs can start construction earlier. In the meantime, we stress that construction plans should be formulated based on the current conditions. Practicability should be emphasized. Large-scale demolition and reconstruction should be avoided. The unique landscape of each village should remain unchanged, in a bid to keep its original sense of rural life and avoid homogenization in rural construction. The dismantling and merging of villages should be strictly regulated, and no farmers should be forced to move into apartment buildings against their will.

Second, rural living environments should be improved. Since the campaign to improve rural living environments was launched in 2018, the dirty, disorderly, and unsanitary parts of rural areas have been significantly improved, especially garbage treatment. The major field of weaknesses currently exist in rural toilets and sewage treatment, particularly the latter. Next, we will launch a five-year action plan to further improve rural living environments. This will include renovating rural toilets in an orderly and categorized manner based on local conditions, and emphasizing sewage treatment efforts, in a bid to effectively improve the livability of rural areas and people's sense of satisfaction.

Third, rural infrastructure should be developed. Infrastructure facilities in rural areas have been significantly improved in recent years. Basically, all administrative villages can be reached by roads and have access to water, electricity, and gas supplies. However, there are still obvious weaknesses in the internal infrastructure of villages. In the next step, we should continue to focus on the construction of public infrastructure in rural areas, and make every effort to reach more villages and households. The villages in this regard refer to non-administrative ones. For example, since rural areas have access to safe drinking water now, we need to improve the ability to guarantee that water supply. Given that electric power in rural areas is basically ensured, we also need to improve the capacity of its supply for production activities in rural areas. As basically all administrative villages have tarmac and cement roads, we need to accelerate the effort to build main roads inside non-administrative villages to help develop local industry, tourism, and resources. In the meantime, we will strive to solve the "last-kilometer" problem existing in the storage, cold-chain logistic, and delivery process between villages and towns. A long-term management, maintenance, and operation mechanism should be established, so as to bring convenience and benefit to the general public in the long run.

Fourth, public services in rural areas should be improved. Currently, we have worked to basically ensure the availability of public services in rural areas. But the quality of such services has yet to be improved when compared with those of cities as well as farmers' actual needs. Next, we need to establish a balanced allocation mechanism of public resources between urban and rural areas, paying attention to key issues farmers are concerned about, such as education, medical care, elderly care, and social insurance. We will continuously promote the equitable access to basic public services in urban and rural areas, in a bid to essentially achieve fairness out of the current inclusiveness.

In addition, the document also stressed that rural construction does not mean blindly constructing in rural areas. Instead, it requires coordinated efforts with specific focuses. County level areas should be taken as important focal point in the integrated development of urban and rural areas. We need to coordinate the developing efforts of infrastructure and public services between urban and rural areas with layered focus, and work to satisfy farmers' varied needs, so as to make sure that the functions are complementary, and the resources are well-coordinated. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that rural construction is undertaken for farmers, and their will must be respected. We will take a face-based, bottom-up approach, and do everything in our capacity to bring tangible benefits to the people.

Tang Renjian:

"Constructing for farmers" is very important, and this is not only what General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed, but also the specific requirement stated in the "No.1 Central Document." Rural construction is not for you or me, but for farmers. Their needs and feelings must be taken care of, and all works must be done based on the actual situation of rural areas. We must do well in this regard during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, fighting against subjective will, formalism, and bureaucracy which could ruin our efforts. This is very important. Thank you.


CCTV Agricultural Rural Channel:

My question is about rural residential land. After some farmers move to the city, their rural residential land becomes inefficiently used as its residential function is less prominent. This is essentially a waste of land resources. Given that the "No.1 Central Document" noted that farmers settling in the city should be ensured the right to use their rural residential land, how can we revitalize this rural residential land while ensuring their right to use?

Wu Hongyao: 

In recent years, the central government has published a series of policies to strengthen the management of rural residential land in accordance with the law, and in general to advance the reform of the system of rural residential land in a steady and prudent manner and effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of farmers. Last year, the Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in collaboration with relevant departments, launched a new round of trial reforms on the system of rural residential land in 104 counties and three prefectural-level cities across China. The core of the pilot scheme is to explore forms of separation of ownership, eligibility and use rights on rural residential land. The trial reform prioritizes protecting the land rights and interests of farmers who have registered as urban residents. . We are exploring mechanisms to safeguard farmers' eligibility, and at the same time, increase the property income of farmers via transfer, mortgaging, voluntary paid withdrawal and paid-use of their land usage rights. 

The reform of rural residential land is in the vital interest of all farmers, and is a sensitive and complex issue. We must act on the requirements of the central government and be patient in dealing with the issue. We should strictly keep the three bottom lines: never change public ownership of land, ensure that China's arable land remains at or above the red line, and fully protect farmers' interests. At the same time, we should make it clear that it's forbidden for urban residents to build villas and private clubs on rural residential land. It's also forbidden to force famers to give up their homesteads and move into apartment blocks. We should always make sure that reform is moving forward in the right direction. Thanks.


National Business Daily: 

Recently, the General Office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs published a notice on encouraging original innovations in agricultural genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and regulating biomaterial shifts. Does it mean that the industrialization of agricultural GMOs is being prioritized into the fast lane of development? And why did the ministry publish the policy? Thanks.

Zhang Taolin:

Thanks for your attention to this issue. My colleagues have answered questions on GMOs many times. China's attitude toward GMOs is consistent and clear. That is, insisting on independent innovation in research, ensuring safety in promotion and application, and implementing strict supervision in management. Publishing the notice is one of our daily jobs, which demonstrates our work requirements to promote innovation on the one hand and strengthen management on the other hand. You may have noticed that the Central Economic Work Conference and the "No. 1 Central Document" all made it clear that we should respect science, tighten supervision, and push forward with the industrialization of bio-breeding in an orderly manner. Agricultural GMOs are a major part of modern bio-breeding technology, which is also the fastest-growing and most widely used modern biological technology. According to statistics, since GMOs were approved for commercial use in 1996, genetically modified crops have taken up over 40 billion mu of land across the world, spanning 29 countries. That means 29 countries have planted genetically modified crops. There are also more than 40 countries and regions that import genetically modified agricultural products. For the industrialization of agricultural GMOs, we will continue to push forward in line with the principles of respecting science, strict management, abiding by laws and regulations,, and ensuring safety, so that GMOs and other modern agricultural biological breeding technologies can better benefit our people. Thanks.


Farmers' Daily,

General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that we need to deepen rural reform and speed up reforms regarding key links in rural areas. What major measures will you take to deepen rural reform this year and during the 14th Five-Year Plan period? Thanks. 

Tang Renjian:

Rural reform mainly concerns micro business entities, market systems and support and protection policies. Over the past years, we have carried out reform in various aspects. Entering the new stage of development, the biggest driving force to advance rural vitalization across the board is to reform. However, we are facing new requirements, limits, environment and conditions in deepening reform, which urges us to push forward with it in a steady, prudent and appropriate manner and apply down-to-earth measures for solid progress. We should especially avoid flip-flopping on reform issues. General Secretary Xi Jinping has repeatedly emphasized that reform concerns famers' fundamental rights and interests, so we should stay patient and proceed when we are sure what measures are fit. The Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs will act in line with the general spirit of rural reform. I'd like to invite Mr. Wu to introduce the concrete measures.

Wu Hongyao:

Mr. Tang just briefed us on the general principles and major points in deepening rural reform. Now I'd like to talk about the concrete measures. 

Since the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the CPC Central Committee has set out an overall and systematic plan to further agricultural and rural reform. We surmounted many obstacles to carry the reform further by formulating a series of major reform plans and laws and regulations. The main framework for improving the healthy development of agriculture and rural areas with "multiple pillars" has been established. For the next step, to advance rural vitalization across the board and accelerate agricultural and rural modernization in the new stage of development, we should continue to vitalize resources in rural areas by stepping up reform in major links and areas. The "No. 1 Central Document" introduces the main tasks regarding this, and the three major aspects are as follows:

Firs, we must consolidate and improve the basic rural operation system. After years of effort, we have basically completed the work to determine, register and certify contracted rural land rights. Rights on 1.5 billion mu of contracted land have been certified and over 200 million famers have received their certifications. For the next step, we should consolidate and make the best use of the progress we have made. We will carry out trial reform on extending the second round of land contracts for another 30 years upon expiration, and keep land contracting practices stable and unchanged on a long-term basis. In the meanwhile, we will update the agricultural operation system and focus on fostering the two new agribusiness models, namely, family farms and farmer cooperatives, while supporting the development of organizations that provide specialized agricultural services. This will help us guide small household farmers to move forward with agricultural modernization. This year, we have another major rural reform task to complete, which is to basically finish the reform of rural collective property rights system. It consists of three parts: first, to confirm the members of collective economic organizations across the board; second, to steadily push forward the reform of collective operating assets based on a shareholding cooperative system; and third, to actively search for effective ways to develop a new type of the rural collective economy.  

Second, we will deepen reforms of the rural land system, focusing on contracted land and rural homesteads. We've mentioned these two areas just now. The new round of pilot reforms of the rural homestead system has started. As this involves the vital interests of rural residents and the situation is quite complex, we will deepen trial reforms, making innovations before dispensing with the old patterns, and carrying out reforms in a steady and prudent manner. While completing our basic work in investigation, confirmation and registration of rural homesteads, we will focus on separating ownership, qualification and use rights and seek to tangible achievements in our pilot reforms. Another part of our reform is rural collective land for development purposes. As the newly revised Land Administration Law has taken effect, the legal barrier on marketization of these lands has been removed, but there needs further clarification on trade requirements and procedures, on ownership, qualification and use rights, and on distribution of income as we further explore such marketization. Moreover, in terms of rural land accessibility, the No.1 central document clarifies the need to make good use of idle and existing land for construction, carry out negative list management, and prioritize land use for rural industrial development and rural construction. In view of the actual needs in developing industries like rural tourism, we will explore flexible and diverse land use measures and ensure that land accessibility won't stand in the way of rural vitalization.

Third, we will establish a guarantee system to prioritize the development of agriculture and rural areas. The key to rural revitalization is to prioritize the development of agriculture and rural areas through huge investment and solid efforts. The No.1 central document has issued a specific requirement on increasing investment and put forward major policy measures to guarantee spending. It has introduced five measures on government spending. First, the general public budget should prioritize spending on both agriculture and rural areas. Second, central government spending on agriculture and rural areas should be expanded. Third, we need to establish and implement a set of evaluation methods for increasing the share of revenue from land transfers diverted to agriculture and rural areas. We introduced these methods last year and we need to review and evaluate the implementation. Fourth, we need to further improve the long-term mechanism for integration of different rural development funds. Fifth, we must support local governments in issuing general bonds and special bonds for modern agriculture facilities and rural development.

It made four requirements in regard to financial support. First, it is necessary to increase medium- and long-term credit support for agricultural and rural infrastructure development. Second, we have to expand small loans to rural businesses. Third, we must encourage the development of special financial products to support new agricultural businesses, as well as foster new industries and new business models in rural areas. Fourth, we have to scale up the practice of awarding instead of subsidizing special agricultural product insurance around the country. Moreover, we must also support the establishment of rural vitalization funds through market-based measures to mobilize social capital in its support to rural industrial development. Thank you.


Chen Wenjun:

As time is limited, we will take one more question.

China National Radio (CNR):

Rural vitalization efforts have been carried out in China for some time. At the beginning of this century, China put forward the idea of building a beautiful countryside. The country put forward the strategy for rural revitalization in 2017 and introduced the National Rural Vitalization Strategic Plan in 2018. In 2020, rural vitalization centered on both the central rural work conference and proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025). My question is, how the form, content and targets of the rural vitalization strategy has evolved over the years? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

This is a good question. Rural vitalization is not a new concept. It was first introduced during the 19th CPC National Congress and has been making steady progress over the past few years. However, we formerly focused our efforts on poverty alleviation. What's different now is that we now highlight the all-round vitalization of the rural areas. After the strategy was introduced in the 19th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee and State Council formulated a guideline which charted a strategic roadmap for rural vitalization. Shortly, the National Rural Vitalization Strategic Plan was published, outlining the targets and policy framework for the ensuing five years. Moreover, the CPC Central Committee also published a regulation on rural work, a major document that systematically specifies the CPC's all-round leadership on rural work, aiming to transform the political advantage of the Party's leadership to impetus in the cause of advancing rural revitalization. Currently, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is reviewing a draft law on promoting rural vitalization, which will offer a fundamental institutional guarantee for making further progress in the strategy. We also established a series of special policies focusing on rural industries, rural governance, social etiquette and civility, and urban-rural integration development. Generally speaking, multiple institutional framework and basic policies for rural revitalization have been established and various valuable explorations are seen in different regions around China.

As we enter a new development stage, our priority in rural work has been shifted to comprehensive advancement of rural vitalization. It's time for full-fledged efforts. The central rural work conference last year and this year's No.1 central document have further mobilized efforts and mapped out plans to boost rural revitalization. Many of the questions we answered just now are related to the all-round approach for rural vitalization. To put it simply, we aim to adopt more forceful measures and mobilize stronger efforts to boost the strategy. You may find three changes: we have evolved from top-level planning to all-round implementation of specific measures; from explorations and pilot programs to a country-wide campaign; from focusing on key areas to comprehensively covering our efforts in vitalizing industry, talent, culture, the environment, and organizational structures in rural areas. Through all-round efforts, we will improve areas of weakness in modernization of agriculture and rural areas and make sure that the development of agriculture and rural areas won't fall behind our overall national modernization effort. This is how the concept of rural revitalization has evolved through the years. Thank you.

Chen Wenjun:

Thank you, Mr. Tang and other speakers today. Thanks to the friends from the media. This is the end of today's press conference. Goodbye.

Translated and edited by Zhang Rui, Liu Qiang, Lin Liyao, Li Huiru, Xiang Bin, Zhang Liying, Xu Xiaoxuan, Zhu Bochen, Fan Junmei, Wang Qian, Li Xiao, Wang Wei, Wang Yiming, Yang Xi, Guo Yiming, Cui Can, Zhang Junmian, David Ball, Jay Birbeck, Geoffrey Murray, and Tom Arnstein. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

/5    Chen Wenjun

/5    Tang Renjian

/5    Zhang Taolin

/5    Wu Hongyao

/5    Group photo