SCIO briefing on priorities for all-round rural revitalization in 2023
Beijing | 10 a.m. Feb. 14, 2023

The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday about China's priorities for all-round rural revitalization in 2023.

Speakers

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

Liu Huanxin, deputy director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, a member of the Leading Group of the Communist Party of China of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and administrator of the National Rural Revitalization Administration

Wu Hongyao, deputy director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group and a member of the Leading Group of the Communist Party of China of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Chairperson

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

Read in Chinese

Speakers:

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

Mr. Liu Huanxin, deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group for Rural Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, member of the CPC Leadership Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and administrator of the National Rural Revitalization Administration

Mr. Wu Hongyao, deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group for Rural Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, and member of the CPC Leadership Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Chairperson: 

Mr. Chen Wenjun, director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO

Date: 

Feb. 14, 2023


Chen Wenjun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). 2023 marks the first year of implementing the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). We will hold a series of themed press conferences, inviting leaders of relevant departments to introduce the ideas, measures, progress and achievements in implementing the guiding principles of the congress. We named the series “Embarking on the New Journey—A Government Perspective,” and we welcome your attention. Today, we are holding the first press conference in the series, to introduce and interpret the newly unveiled the "No. 1 central document" for 2023 as well as answer your questions. Present at the press conference are: Mr. Tang Renjian, director of the Office of the Leading Group for Rural Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, and minister of agriculture and rural affairs; Mr. Liu Huanxin, deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group for Rural Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, member of the CPC Leadership Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and administrator of the National Rural Revitalization Administration; and Mr. Wu Hongyao, deputy director of the Office of the Leading Group for Rural Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, and member of the CPC Leadership Group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Now, I will give the floor to Mr. Tang Renjian.

Tang Renjian:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. With the arrival of spring, farmers are once again busy with work. On Feb. 13, Xinhua News Agency was authorized to issue the "Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Comprehensively Promoting the Key Work of Rural Revitalization in 2023," or the No. 1 central document for 2023. This is the 20th consecutive No. 1 central document released by China's central authorities to guide the work on agriculture, rural areas and rural residents since the beginning of this century. Through the document, the CPC Central Committee reiterated its commitment to the work on agriculture, rural areas and rural residents, sending a strong signal of prioritizing and boosting agriculture. Now, I would like to briefly introduce the document.

First, the background in drafting the document. 

Over the past year, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we have coordinated the COVID-19 response and agricultural and rural development, effectively addressed multiple challenges, kept the fundamentals of agriculture stable, and consolidated the “ballast” for the work on agriculture, rural areas and rural residents, thus providing a foundation for overall economic and social stability. First, China has secured another bumper harvest. The country's grain output totaled 1.3731 trillion jin (686.55 billion kg) in 2022, up 7.4 billion jin (3.7 billion kg) compared to the previous year and again setting a new high. The increase in the production capacity of soybeans and other oilseed crops exceeded projections. Hog production remained stable. The market supply and prices of meat, eggs, milk, fruit, vegetables and fish were stable throughout the year. Second, the gains in poverty alleviation have been further consolidated. The monitoring and assistance mechanism has been continuously improved, industrial and employment assistance has been strengthened, and the risks of returning to or falling into poverty have been effectively defused. We have maintained the bottom line of ensuring no large-scale return to poverty. Third, the incomes of farmers maintained steady growth. The per capita disposable income of rural residents surpassed the milestone of 20,000 yuan, reaching 20,133 yuan ($2,937), an increase of 4.2% in real terms, 1.2 and 2.3 percentage points higher than the growth rates of GDP and per capita disposable income of urban residents, respectively. Fourth, solid steps have been taken to promote priorities for rural revitalization. The development of rural industries has been boosted, initiatives to improve rural infrastructure have been launched, the level of rural governance has been continuously improved, the reform of rural areas has been advanced, and rural society has been stable and peaceful.

The 20th CPC National Congress drew up a grand blueprint for advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization, and proposed for the first time moving faster to build up China’s strength in agriculture. At the annual central rural work conference held at the end of last year, General Secretary Xi Jinping, with the overall strategy of national development and rejuvenation in mind, systematically expounded a series of major theoretical and practical issues on moving faster to build up China’s strength in agriculture, promoting the modernization of agriculture and rural areas and advancing rural revitalization across the board, which provided fundamental principles and guidelines for drafting the No. 1 central document for 2023 and delivering a satisfactory performance in the work on agriculture, rural areas and rural residents on the new journey of the new era. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that a country must first strengthen agriculture to make itself strong, and only when agriculture is strong can the country be strong . He noted that the most challenging and arduous tasks we face in building a modern socialist China in all respects remain in our rural areas. He said that addressing the issues related to agriculture, rural areas and rural residents should have a central place in the work agenda of the Party , and we should mobilize efforts and resources across the Party and the society to advance rural revitalization across the board, accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas, move faster to build up China’s strength in agriculture, and build a beautiful and harmonious countryside that is desirable to live and work in, so as to lay a solid foundation for building a modern socialist country in all respects.

Second, the main content of the document.

Implementing the guiding principles from General Secretary Xi Jinping's important speeches and following the arrangements and requirements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the document fully puts the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress into action. It aims to expedite the efforts to build China's strength in agriculture. It focuses on rural revitalization, with eyes both on the present and future, and features conciseness, practicality, and innovation. The document centers closely on the benchmark issues and urgent matters involved in comprehensively promoting rural revitalization and specifies key tasks and policy measures in the field. It consists of nine sections and 33 items, and its main content can be summarized as completing basic tasks, advancing rural revitalization, and strengthening related support.

In terms of completing basic tasks, the document underlines the effort to ensure the nation's food security and that people do not sink back into poverty in large numbers. First, it stresses the need for stable production and adequate supplies of grains and other important agricultural products. It stresses that we must boost the construction of agricultural infrastructure and strengthen support for agricultural science, technology, and equipment, in a bid to ensure that the country's annual grain output remains over 650 million metric tons. Second, the document underscores the tasks of strengthening the internal growth momentum of areas and people that have shaken off poverty, stabilizing and improving supportive policies, and ensuring that people do not sink back into poverty in large numbers.

In terms of advancing rural revitalization, the document centers on the general requirements of this endeavor and stresses efforts to foster rural development, construction, governance and other significant issues. First, it stresses bolstering high-quality rural industries and developing new industries and business forms in rural areas. Second, it emphasizes boosting employment among rural residents and increasing their incomes, enhancing the efficiency of agricultural businesses, giving rural residents greater property rights and interests, and expanding channels for them to gain additional income. Third, in line with rural areas' goal to have basic access to modern lives, the document stresses building a beautiful countryside that people enjoy living and working in. Fourth, it emphasizes improving the rural governance system led by Party organizations and enhancing the efficiency of rural governance.

In terms of strengthening related support, the document stresses reinforcing organization and guidance. It emphasizes strengthening policy guarantees, institutional innovation, and the Party's leadership in all the work concerning agriculture and rural areas and residents.

In general, this year's document focuses on implementation and highlights the guiding role of the arrangements and the targeted nature of policy measures. It is not only a "to-do list" that specifies the priorities of our work this year but also a "handbook" that guides our efforts to comprehensively advance rural revitalization.

Next, my colleagues and I will take your questions.

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Chen Wenjun:

Thank you, Mr. Tang. The floor is now open for questions. Please indicate the media organization you work for before raising questions.

CCTV:

At the end of last year, the central rural work conference made arrangements to accelerate the building of strong agriculture. What does it entail and what are the basic requirements of this endeavor? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

Thank you for your question. This is a crucial issue and comprises the essence of the document. Accelerating the building of strong agriculture is a strategic arrangement made for the work concerning agriculture, rural areas and rural residents in the new era by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. It was made to coordinate China's internal and international imperatives and build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. It clarifies the historical status and future goals of the work concerning agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents in the overall drive of China's national rejuvenation.

Building strong agriculture involves many facets. It involves the growth of productivity and the development of production relations. It also concerns the comprehensive upgrading of agriculture, progress in every sector of rural areas, and the well-rounded development of rural residents. For one thing, China must meet the standard qualifications for strong agriculture. Despite differences in resources, institutional environment, and agricultural capacity, foreign countries with strong, modern agriculture bear common features. We need to follow the general principle of modern agriculture development, find out where we have fallen short, make up for our weaknesses, and leverage our advantages in a bid to build an agricultural sector that is strong in supply, sci-tech equipment, business systems, industrial resilience and overall competitiveness. In addition, Chinese characteristics need to be considered based on our national conditions. Agricultural planting and animal husbandry require an appropriate natural environment, which is crucial for agriculture. Likewise, the endeavor of building strong agriculture also needs to fit our national and agricultural conditions, and we need to rely on ourselves to solve practical problems. This is very important. China has a vast population but limited land resources. Its farming civilization has a long history, but our time demands greater harmony between humanity and nature. These three aspects determine that we must be self-dependent in securing our food supply. To develop agriculture, we must rely on the two-tier management system, which integrates cooperative management with household contract management. We must also advance eco-friendly and low-carbon agriculture, sustain our farming civilization, and promote prosperity for all. These statements reflect China's characteristics as well as its national and agricultural conditions. We need to explore a path of agricultural modernization with distinctive Chinese features.

Building China's strength in agriculture is a long-term task and a systematic project. This requires attention to methods while grasping timing, degree, and effectiveness. First, it is necessary to accurately understand the layout of rural work regarding agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents. Building China's strength in agriculture is in line with advancing rural revitalization across the board, with the same goals and unified processes. Currently, the focus should be on advancing rural revitalization on all fronts, ensuring the connection between policy and work systems, and maintaining work continuity without changing the focus, theme, or channel. Second, it is necessary to strengthen overall planning. We should accelerate the study and formulation of plans to speed up the building of China's strength in agriculture, do a good job of overall planning and systematic arrangements, and connect with existing plans. It should be neither a completely new plan nor disconnected from existing ones, but rather a clear roadmap and a working plan with a solid and effective implementation that is both connected and innovative. We must work out such a plan. Third, it is necessary to highlight practical results and effectiveness. Our work’s emphasis should be on solving the most urgent and pressing issues of local agricultural and rural development, focusing on specific practical issues raised by farmers, including some key small matters, and making sustained efforts. The goal is to make rural people feel a tangible sense of gain, happiness, and security in the process of rural revitalization. Thank you.

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Farmers' Daily with Farmer.com.cn:

Ensuring national food security is the top priority of rural work in agriculture, rural areas, and rural residents. What is the current national food security situation in China? In order to ensure national food security, what specific measures will be taken next? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

Thank you for your questions. Ensuring national food security is the primary task of building China's strength in agriculture. Regarding the situation you asked about, we all know that we faced the intertwined and overlapping challenges of the pandemic and disasters last year. International grain prices fluctuated dramatically, and there was a severe situation caused by the impact of high agricultural material prices. Nevertheless, China's grain production has achieved another harvest, with a stable output of over 1.3 trillion jin (650 million metric tons) for eight consecutive years. We have made the food supply more stable, better, and more secure for more than 1.4 billion Chinese people, which has provided important support for stabilizing expectations, prices, and confidence. However, we must also see that the pressure to keep our rice bowls safe is increasing due to the large population base, the upgrading of consumption, the growth in food demand, and the increasing uncertainty and instability of global agricultural trade. Next, we must take multiple measures and comprehensive actions to strengthen the foundation of food security from all aspects.

In terms of goals, we will focus on stabilizing the grain acreage, increasing the per-unit crop yield, and striving for greater output. First, we must stabilize the grain acreage, which is the foundation of grain production. We will promote multiple cropping in southern provinces, implement projects to increase the per-unit yield of soybeans and corn (because the per-unit yield of both is now relatively low), and ensure that grain output remains above 650 million metric tons by carrying out the establishment of farmland with an annual yield of 1000 kg per mu. At the same time, we will intensify efforts to expand the planting of soybean and other oil crops, solidly promote the belt-like compound planting of soybeans and corn, support the rotation of grain and soybeans in Northeast China and the Huang-Huai-Hai region, and steadily develop and utilize saline-alkali land for planting soybeans. Pilot projects in some areas have shown good results, and we have opened up a new resource to expand production and increase output with multiple oil crops. Second, we must increase production capacity. The CPC Central Committee and this year's No. 1 central document have made it clear that we must launch and implement a new round of action to increase grain production capacity by 50 billion kilograms, concentrate necessary resources, and use all means to promote the early attainment of a new level of grain production capacity. Typically, every 50 billion kilograms represents one further level, which means we have to reach over 700 million metric tons (from 650 million metric tons). In addition, we must establish a broad concept of food, formulate plans by sector, accelerate the building of a diversified food supply system, and enrich the sources of food varieties.

In terms of measures, we will focus on strengthening the material foundation for crop production based on farmland management and technological application. One is to strengthen infrastructure construction. We will strictly control the usage of farmland, resolutely ensure the area of farmland remains above the red line of 120 million hectares, complete the annual task of new construction and upgrading of high-standard farmland, and promptly formulate an implementation plan to gradually develop all permanent basic cropland into high-standard cropland. This is a big move, involving 103 million hectares of permanent basic cropland. We will use modern agricultural facilities to better ensure food security. The second is to strengthen the support of scientific and technological equipment. We will promote the breakthrough of key and core agricultural technologies, deeply implement the seed industry revitalization action, build up our strength in agricultural technology at a faster pace, focus on improving per unit crop yield, and come up with comprehensive solutions for integrating good soil, good crop varieties, good methods, good machinery, and good mechanisms for each variety, and rely on science and technology to increase the grain output and capacity.

In terms of policy, the focus is to improve institutional safeguards for farmers to grow grain and make a profit and for local governments to take responsibility for grain production. I just talked about the point of strengthening the material foundation for crop production based on farmland management and technological application. The point I’m talking about now emphasizes the improvement of the institutional assurance for farmers to grow grain and make money and for local governments to take responsibility for grain production. The two points come down to these four words: farmland, technology, profit, and responsibility. The first is policy guidance. We need to improve the income guarantee mechanism for grain growers, continue to raise the minimum purchase price of wheat, reasonably determine the minimum purchase price of rice, stabilize rice subsidies, improve corn and soybean producers' subsidies, increase soybean subsidies, and promote the expansion of policy-based purchase and storage of soybeans and market-based purchases. We will gradually expand the implementation scope of full-cost insurance and planting income insurance for rice, wheat, and corn and improve the mechanism for ensuring the supply and stabilizing the price of agricultural materials. At the same time, it is necessary to improve the interest compensation mechanism for major grain-producing areas and increase the scale of rewards for major grain-producing counties. The second is to ensure fulfillment of responsibilities. This year, we will continue to assign the grain production targets and tasks approved by the State Council to all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, and ensure the planting area set for each variety is not compromised. We will strictly assess the performance of provincial Party committees and governments under the accountability system for farmland protection and food security, and promote the implementation of policies and measures through the fulfillment of responsibilities. Thank you.

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Global Times:

Consolidating and expanding the achievements in poverty alleviation is a prerequisite for comprehensively promoting rural revitalization. What is the current progress in this regard? What measures will be taken next to help people who have been lifted out of poverty to improve their lives? Thank you.

Liu Huanxin:

Thank you for your concern and attention to consolidating and expanding the achievements of poverty alleviation.

2022 is the year of pursuing rural revitalization by building on the success in poverty alleviation in an in-depth manner. Through the joint efforts of all parties, our poverty alleviation achievements are further consolidated and expanded. The foundation of poverty alleviation is more solid and the results are more sustainable, which are mainly reflected in three aspects. First, there have been no people slipping back into poverty in large numbers. The monitoring and assistance mechanisms to prevent people from slipping back into poverty have played an effective role. The time spent on poverty identification and confirmation has been shortened to less than 15 days, and early detection, early intervention, and early assistance have been realized. The capacity for guaranteeing access to compulsory education, basic medical services and safe housing for impoverished rural residents, and the capacity for providing safe drinking water and meeting people’s basic needs continue to be consolidated and improved. Second, the employment situation of the labor force that was lifted out of poverty remains stable. In 2022, 32.779 million of them enjoyed full employment, an increase of 1.329 million from the end of 2021, exceeding the annual target by 2.587 million. Third, the income of areas and people that have been lifted out of poverty has increased rapidly. In 2022, the per capita disposable income of farmers in areas that have been lifted out of poverty reached 15,111 yuan, an increase of 7.5%, which is 1.2 percentage points higher than the growth rate of the per capita disposable income of farmers nationwide. The per capita net income of those that have been lifted out of poverty reached 14,342 yuan, a year-on-year increase of 14.3%, 8 percentage points higher than the growth rate of the per capita disposable income of farmers nationwide.

General Secretary Xi Jinping called for efforts to consolidate and expand our achievements in poverty alleviation and help areas and people that have just shaken off poverty build their own momentum for growth in his report to the 20th CPC National Congress. The task of consolidating and expanding achievements in poverty alleviation has continued to be put high on the agenda in the No. 1 central document for 2023 as one of the bottom-line tasks. We will thoroughly implement the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and intensify efforts to carry out all work related to consolidating and expanding achievements in poverty alleviation, in a bid to further improve the livelihoods of people lifted out of poverty.

First, we will strengthen monitoring to ensure the implementation of poverty assistance work. We will carry out regular monitoring and centralized screening of monitored targets, further improve the accuracy of identification and targeted assistance, and promptly address the potential risks of returning to poverty due to epidemics , illnesses or disasters. We will provide classified assistance and implement development-oriented poverty reduction measures for monitored households that are able to work and willing to do so. We should also enhance social security guarantees for those who are unable to work.

Second, we will foster driving force for development. We should regard increasing the income of people lifted out of poverty as a fundamental measure, take accelerating the development of counties lifted out of poverty as the main direction, focus on industrial employment and give full play to the role of development, so as to further narrow the gaps in income and development, and help areas and people lifted out of poverty build their own momentum for growth. We will make good use of the central government's subsidies for rural revitalization to improve weak links of poverty-stricken areas in technology, infrastructure, marketing and other industries. We will deepen cooperation in labor services coordination between eastern and western regions, create more jobs for people lifted out of poverty to prevent them from returning to poverty, and ensure that the scale of employment for those lifted out of poverty remains stable at over 30 million .

Third, we will further improve relevant policies. We will fully implement the policy of effectively linking our achievements in poverty alleviation and rural revitalization, and continue to give greater priority to policies in key counties for rural revitalization and in key areas such as poverty-alleviation relocation centers in inhospitable areas. We will deepen cooperation between the eastern and western regions, mobilize central government departments to provide designated assistance, and encourage more assistance mechanisms such as the "10,000 Enterprises to Aid 10,000 Villages" program, to generate synergy to prevent people from falling back into poverty. We will give full play to the role of assessment and evaluation as the "baton" to consolidate and expand the achievements in poverty alleviation and rural revitalization, and strengthen responsibilities at all levels. Thank you. 

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China County Times:

As with the virtuous circle of "science, industry and finance" proposed at last year's Central Economic Work Conference, the development of agriculture and rural areas cannot be separated from the support of funds and policies. Therefore, I would like to ask what measures will be taken in the field of agriculture and rural areas to strengthen policy guarantees and institutional innovation? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

This question is related with the driving force behind building China's strength in agriculture, that is, where the driving force originates. Thank you for your question, which is a profound one. 

To promote all-around rural revitalization and build up strength in agriculture, we need to make concrete efforts, make real investments, and work together to create policy synergy. This year’s No. 1 central document focuses on areas such as investment, talent, mechanism, and institutional guarantees. 

First, we must improve the investment mechanism through multiple channels to boost rural revitalization, initially via government investment. The document prioritizes agriculture and rural areas as key areas for the national general public budget and requires local governments to take full responsibility for their investments. Efforts will be made to increase the proportion of land transfer revenue that is used for agriculture and rural areas. Eligible rural revitalization projects will be supported via local government bonds. Second, via financial investment. We need to better leverage policy tools, such as relending and rediscounting programs, differentiated reserved requirement ratios, differentiated financial regulation, and assessment and evaluation policies. We encourage financial institutions to increase their lending in the areas related to rural revitalization, with a focus on ensuring credit funding for food security. Third, via investment from social capital. There is a need to improve the linkage mechanism between government investment, financial investment, and social investment. We encourage the bundling of eligible projects implemented by market entities according to regulations. In the agricultural and rural investment sector, projects are often dispersed across many households and vast farmland, and individual projects are often scarce. However, when aggregated at a city, provincial, or national level, the scale can be significant. Therefore, the bundling of projects is necessary to facilitate deposits, loans, and implementation.

Second, we must strengthen the building of the rural talent pool. This involves a combination of cultivating and introducing talent. On one hand, efforts will be made to cultivate local talent in rural areas, such as implementing plans to train high-caliber farmers, carrying out initiatives to cultivate rural entrepreneurial leaders, and developing vocational education for rural revitalization. On the other hand, urban talent will be encouraged to go to the countryside. A program to support rural revitalization talent will be launched, guiding university graduates, skilled professionals, migrant workers, and entrepreneurs to return to or work in rural areas. These four groups of people were mentioned in the speech made by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the central rural work conference at the end of last year. They are encouraged to work at the grassroots level. Additionally, incentive mechanisms will be improved to encourage urban professionals and technical personnel to regularly serve rural areas. Preferential treatment in terms of job promotion and professional title evaluation will be given to those who serve rural areas long-term.

Third, we will improve the mechanism for advancing rural revitalization. The mechanisms mainly relate to the following aspects. First, we need to fully implement the system of responsibility for rural revitalization. We should ensure that Party secretaries at the provincial, municipal, county, township, and village levels assume their responsibilities in implementing rural revitalization. As in poverty alleviation, Party secretaries at five levels are responsible for advancing progress, and we will also adopt this approach in promoting rural revitalization to form a policy and work synergy. Second, we need to improve mechanisms for inspecting and evaluating rural revitalization. Concerted efforts will be taken to conduct performance evaluations on the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy and to carry out assessments on the coordinated efforts between expanding and consolidating poverty alleviation and rural revitalization. We should also make the promotion of rural revitalization through Party building a key part in evaluating the performance of Party secretaries at the five levels. Third, we need to establish a statistical monitoring system for rural revitalization. We should strengthen the statistical monitoring of rural revitalization, set up indicators and statistical systems that reflect the progress of rural revitalization in an objective manner, and conduct evaluations of the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy in a timely and scientific manner. Thank you.

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Sannongfabu:

In recent years, the incomes of farmers have grown rapidly, and the income gap between urban and rural areas has gradually narrowed. What are the current channels for farmers to increase their incomes? And what measures are there to help farmers boost their incomes? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

The phrase "increasing incomes and getting richer" has been used for many years, and was also mentioned in the report to the 20th CPC National Congress and in the No. 1 central document for 2023. I think it has a new meaning in the new stage. Currently, the phrase obviously means to gain common prosperity for everyone. So, from this perspective, it is an old term, but with new connotations and requirements. I'd like to invite Mr. Wu Hongyao to address this question in detail. 

Wu Hongyao:

This is a very important issue. The work on China's agriculture, rural areas and farmers has two main tasks: One is ensuring supplies, and the other is increasing incomes. Therefore, increasing incomes for farmers has indeed been a key task for the work on agriculture, rural areas and farmers. I'll explain more. 

General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed on many occasions that we must continue to make increasing rural incomes the central task of our work on agriculture, rural areas and farmers, and do everything possible to expand channels for farmers to increase incomes and get richer. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, farmers' incomes have continued to grow rapidly. In 2019, the target of doubling the income of 2010 was achieved one year ahead of schedule. In 2022, the per capita disposable income of rural residents exceeded 20,000 yuan for the first time, reaching 20,133 yuan. The income ratio between urban and rural residents declined from 2.88 in 2012 to 2.45 in 2022. The income gap between urban and rural residents has gradually narrowed. However, we have also noticed that the growth rate of farmers' incomes has slowed, and the driving force of income growth has weakened. We must pay close attention and take practical measures that combine both short- and long-term solutions to expand channels for farmers to increase their incomes. On this regard, the No. 1 central document this year has made arrangements, which focus on four aspects:

First, we need to stabilize employment. In 2022, incomes from wages and salaries accounted for 41.96% of farmers' incomes, which made the major contribution to the increase in farmers' incomes. We will strengthen the implementation of various policies to stabilize employment, improve employment skills, increase job positions, create employment opportunities and stabilize the employment of rural migrant workers. Our research shows that, currently, more than three-quarters of rural migrant workers are employed within their provinces; and more than half are employed in their counties. We should follow this trend and develop county-level industries which have competitive advantages, strong motivational ability and large employment capacity, so as to encourage rural residents to find jobs and start businesses locally. 

Second, we will focus on increasing the effectiveness of the operation. The net income from household operations accounted for 34.63% of farmers' income. Among them, over 60% comes from agricultural operating income. We will cultivate new types of agribusinesses and improve commercial services catering to small agricultural households, to improve farmers' income. We will carry out a promotional campaign to offer services for agriculture businesses to help plant and harvest crops and even manage everything involved in the agricultural production process. Then, we can encourage small household farmers to save costs, improve quality and promote marketing.

Third, we will tap the potential of property income. Net property income accounted for 2.53% of farmers' income. There is still much potential and space to be tapped. We will deepen the reform of the rural land system to ensure the affirmation of rights to contract rural lands, promote endowment steadily, and protect the flexible management rights in an orderly way so that farmers can increase property income and enjoy the dividends of the reform.

Fourth, we will pay more attention to transferring income. Farmers' net transfer income accounted for 20.88% of their income. It is an important component of farmers' income, especially those lifted out of poverty and those with low incomes in rural areas. We will continue to beef up policy support to strengthen agriculture, benefit farmers, and raise rural living standards. We will ensure that the social security level is improved in rural areas and that farmers get more subsidies. By doing so, we aim to provide a safety net concerning social security and ensure people prosper in rural areas. Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

We just mentioned that increasing farmers' incomes is the central task of the work concerning agriculture, rural areas, and farmers. Moreover, we should note that food security is a top priority. We need to handle holistically the relationship between these two tasks, which are both vital to our development.

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Red Star News:

The launch of rural reform is the key to the rural revitalization strategy. According to the No. 1 central document for 2023, what new tasks and requirements have been pushed forward to advance rural reform, stimulate production factors and resources in rural areas, and spur internal creativity? Thank you. 

Wu Hongyao:

The No. 1 central document for 2023 mentioned two drivers: scientific and technological innovation and institutional innovation, i.e. reform. I will answer your question.

General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the need to rely on reform to speed up building strong agriculture. The overall idea for deepening rural reform in the new era and on the new journey is to continue to handle the relationship between farmers and land properly. We must align strengthening the foundation of collective ownership, safeguarding and realizing the rights of farming collective members with activating resource elements to improve the separation of rights and interests over rural collective resources and assets. We need to ensure farmers can share more of the fruits of reform. In the No. 1 central document for 2023, we have made deployments and arrangements from three areas.

First, we will deepen reforms of the rural land system. We will mainly advance reform concerning rural contracted land, residential land, and collective land for development purposes. With regard to contracted land, we will steadily advance trials on extending the second round of rural land contracts for another 30 years upon expiration. We will gradually expand the scope of the pilot scheme, uphold the principle of maintaining overall stability and making minor adjustments to ensure the original contract rights of most farmers remain stable and are smoothly extended. In regions where conditions permit, we will explore resolving the fragmentation of farmland based on the premise of farmers' willingness. In terms of rural residential land, we will give priority to advancing trial reforms on rural land designated for housing in a steady and prudent fashion. Focusing on ensuring housing, controlling illegal construction, making use of idled land, and based on the work to determine, register, and certify both land and house rights, we will strengthen management and explore ways to achieve the separation of ownership, entitlement, and right to use of rural land designated for housing. Concerning rural collective land for development purposes, we will focus on advancing trials for marketing rural collective land for development purposes. We will establish effective regulatory mechanisms for distributing revenues from the appreciation in land values between the state, rural collective economic organizations, and farmers. 

Second, we will develop new collective economies in rural areas. We will continue to advance the reform of the rural collective property rights system and consolidate and expand its achievements. We will work to improve the operation mechanism, advancing the development of an operation mechanism with clear property rights, sound governance structures, steady ways of operation, and reasonable distribution of benefits. We will also explore diversified means to develop new collective economies in rural areas and promote various models, including the contract of resources, the rental of property, the intermediary services, and the share participation of assets. At the same time, we will improve the regulatory system for rural collective assets and fully protect collective members’ rights to know, participate, and supervise.

Third, we will promote integrated urban-rural development in counties. Counties connect urban and rural areas and serve as basic units of economic and social development. They have huge potential in helping expand domestic demands and foster a new development pattern. Over the years, we have seen that more and more people who have moved from rural to urban areas seek employment and start businesses in counties and gain permanent urban residency there. There are 910 million permanent urban residents in China, and nearly one-third of them live in the urban areas of counties and county-level cities. Based on that, we will take counties as a focal point and improve institutions and mechanisms, and policy systems for urban-rural integrated development to ensure the smooth flow of factors of production between urban and rural areas. We will coordinate the planning and development of urban and rural areas in counties; allocate public resources in counties, townships, and villages in an incremental manner; and continue to grant permanent urban residency to rural migrant workers in counties. With all these efforts, we will gradually break the barriers between urban and rural areas in counties and build counties as an important bond for industry-agriculture and urban-rural synergies. Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

Let me emphasize how Mr. Wu Hongyao’s answer just now and this year’s No. 1 central document both mention new collective economies in rural areas. New collective economies in rural areas have been talked about for many years, but it has not been stated explicitly what the new collective economy is and how to develop it. This time, we actually make clear the new collective economy that we will develop, which can be generalized into four aspects. That is the economy with an operation mechanism with clear property rights, sound governance structures, steady ways of operation, and reasonable distribution of benefits. How to develop the new collective economy in rural areas? There are also four aspects, including promoting various models, including the contract of resources, the rental of property, the intermediary services, and the share participation of assets. Therefore, I would like to make this point clear that answers have been provided concerning innate laws and pathways of development of the new collective economy in rural areas.

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China Daily:

According to the report to the 20th CPC National Congress, we will build a beautiful and harmonious countryside that is desirable to live and work in. What specific arrangements have been made in this regard in the No. 1 central document for 2023? Thank you.

Liu Huanxin:

Thank you for your question. General Secretary Xi Jinping has stressed that building a beautiful and harmonious countryside that is desirable to live and work in is integral to building China's strength in agriculture. From building a beautiful countryside to a beautiful and harmonious countryside that is desirable to live and work in, the content and goal of rural development have been further enriched and broadened. It also underlines how rural development should focus on both material elements and the people and work on advancing material and cultural progress to achieve the all-around development of rural areas. The No. 1 central document for 2023 has made specific arrangements concerning building a beautiful and harmonious countryside that is desirable to live and work in, with a focus on advancing both material and cultural development. 

First, we will work to promote material development and ensure modern standards of living in rural areas. The report to the 20th CPC National Congress has taken ensuring modern standards of living in rural areas as one of China's overall development objectives by 2035. Last year, the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council issued the Action Plan on Rural Construction. We will focus on improving rural living environments, rural infrastructure, and basic public services and advance rural development in an effective and orderly manner. We will give priority to establishing three mechanisms. First, we will build the mechanism that gives full play to the guiding role of rural development plans. In response to the changes in urban-rural structure and new forms of the countryside, we will advance the planning and construction of urban and rural infrastructure and public service systems in a coordinated way. We will pool resources to work on projects that are inclusive, meet essential needs, and ensure basic living standards for people in difficulty. We will also give priority to programs that both bring convenience to people’s lives and promote production. Second, we will build a mechanism that improves the features of the countryside. The original features of the countryside will be demonstrated, and elements of modern life will also be incorporated. We will ensure the integrity of the space and modernization of the infrastructure and preserve the history and original features so as to preserve the customs and charms of the countryside and retain its cultural roots. Third, we will build the mechanism for farmers’ participation. We will respect farmers’ aspirations; widely listen to public opinions on what to build, how to build, and how to manage; and guide farmers to participate in the whole process of rural construction.

Second, we will work to promote cultural development in the countryside and foster a prevailing ethos of kindness, friendship, harmony, and peace. Since ancient times, China has valued the idea of harmony. People follow the laws of nature and take local conditions into consideration in agricultural production. In rural living, people pursue kindness and friendship and value peace and harmony. The villages and settlements are in harmony with the environment and nature. The idea of harmony shall be upheld throughout the process of rural construction to nurture people, educate people, and unite people so as to ensure good social morality and peace and stability in the countryside. First, we will integrate carriers to strengthen and improve rural governance. We will improve primary-level social governance platforms featuring grid-based management, meticulous services, and IT support and integrate effective systems, including a points-based system and the list system. We will also pool the strengths of various departments in a coordinated way to improve rural governance efficacy. Second, we will take innovative measures to advance progress in culture and ethics in the countryside. Based on the needs and desires of farmers, we will provide more interesting, farming-related rural cultural products and services that showcase harmonious living, amicable relationships, and beautiful surroundings in the countryside. We will continue to update outmoded and undesirable habits and customs, and prevent unhealthy tendencies and make extensive efforts to promote good habits and customs in the countryside by formulating regulations, improving village rules and regulations, and making party members and officials serve as role models.

Tang Renjian:

From a beautiful countryside to a beautiful and harmonious countryside, with one word – change – our goals have become richer and deeper. Thank you.

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Chen Wenjun:

The last question, please.

CRNTT:

The development of industries is a top priority on the agenda of rural revitalization. What are your considerations concerning implementing supportive policies in this regard and enabling the industry of local specialties to advance rural revitalization? Thank you.

Tang Renjian:

Just now, there was a question about increasing the income of farmers, behind which the most important support is actually the development of industries. General Secretary Xi Jinping has made it clear that the development of industries is the most important on the agenda of rural revitalization, and it tops the “five priorities” of rural revitalization. He also made clear requirements that particular attention should be paid to local specialties at the Central Rural Work Conference held last year end. In this year’s No. 1 central document, specific arrangements have been made concerning the high-quality development of rural industries. Priorities will be given to the following four aspects.

First, we will work on promoting specialties. The development of rural industries depends on making good use of local resources. That is their specialty: diversified agricultural and sideline products, beautiful countryside sceneries, and traditional culture that values farming and education. All of these are attractive features of the countryside and provide unique conditions for the development of rural industries. We should accommodate changes in the market demand and make full use of the special resources of agriculture and rural areas to develop a variety of agricultural functions and multiple types of value in rural areas. We will make breakthroughs in the development of industries in accordance with the local conditions and turn the advantages in resources, eco-environment, and culture into advantages in products and industries to strengthen competitiveness and capacity for sustainable development. 

Second, we will work to promote industrial integration. We will focus on giving full play to the role of the multiplier effect brought about by the three industrial integrations, which we are all familiar with, and work to develop leading enterprises, strengthen weak links, boost all forms of business, and establish self-developed brands. We will break barriers between the production, processing, and sale of agricultural products and develop agricultural products processing and distribution industries. We will foster industries for precooked dishes and improve the standardization of industries for fresh-cut vegetables and the central production kitchen. We will also promote the local conversion and processing of agricultural products and promote transformation from selling raw materials to processed products. We will promote the integration of agricultural, cultural, and tourism industries and accelerate the modern rural service industry, meeting the consumption needs of urban and rural residents. The intermediary services in the new collective economies in the rural areas we just mentioned also refer to that. We will encourage the development of shopping, culture, sport, tourism, elderly care, and child care along with information intermediaries and other daily life services and promote the transformation from selling products to selling both products and services. We just talked about the transformation from selling raw materials to processed products. This is the transformation from selling products to selling both products and services.

Third, we will optimize the layout. We will foster and develop county-level industries that benefit the people. We will prioritize the construction of industrial parks and zones and improve the layout of industries at the county, township, and village levels. We will take the whole county into consideration when making development plans and make a reasonable layout of production, processing, sales, consumption, and other sectors. We will work to improve the carrying capacity and supporting services of county-level industries and give better play to the role of major towns in attracting people. We will guide agricultural product processing enterprises to locate in product origin centers and industrial parks. With all these efforts, we will build industrial clusters that connect urban and rural areas.

Fourth, we will work on connecting and leading farmers. The above-mentioned three measures will make little sense if without doing a good job in connecting and leading farmers. We will guide enterprises to make full use of their advantages and to develop themselves in the process of leading and serving farmers. We will improve the mechanism from which farmers can benefit from a closer integration into agricultural industrial chains, and accelerating the development of the pattern featuring mutual complementarity and division of labor between enterprises and farmers, so as to leave more benefits to farmers as industries produce more value. Moreover, we will improve guidance for nongovernmental businesses to invest in agriculture and rural areas. While encouragement and guidance will be provided, whole-process supervision will also be carried out concerning the introduction, use, and exit of nongovernmental businesses. By doing so, farmers can gain benefits to the greatest extent, and their interests will be safeguarded. Thank you.

Chen Wenjun:

Thanks to all the speakers and friends from the media. Today’s briefing is hereby concluded. See you!

Translated and edited by Zhang Liying, Wang Qian, Zhu Bochen, Liu Sitong, Zhang Rui, Yang Xi, Yan Bin, Yuan Fang, Qin Qi, Cui Can, Zhou Jing, Yan Xiaoqing, Li Xiao, Ma Yujia, Wang Yiming, Zhang Junmian, Xu Kailin, Li Huiru, David Ball, Tom Arnsten, and Jay Birbeck. 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    Liu Huanxin

/5    Wu Hongyao

/5    Group photo