Farmers reap wheat at a farm in Xichen Village of Jiangwucheng Township in Cixian County, north China’s Hebei Province, June 5, 2018 (XINHUA)
During the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang highlighted that China will consolidate and expand its achievements in poverty alleviation with efforts to promote rural revitalization. The strategy of rural revitalization has remained an important ingredient of China’s national development made for the past many decades especially for the overall reform and opening-up policies.
China’s development and transformational achievements in terms of poverty alleviation and rural development are immense. The world has witnessed the glorious defeat of China against poverty when President Xi Jinping announced that China has finally achieved its goal to uplift the communities to prosperity. Since the inception of the founding of modern China, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping at the core over all these years has continuously advanced modernization and revitalization of the rural regions across the country through rural reforms, development of agriculture, innovation, supply chains development, better irrigation and above all keeping the farmer’s wellbeing as a priority.
Over the past years since President Xi Jinping took office, the focus has remained on poverty alleviation with efforts to help revitalize the communities. What a wonderful way to celebrate 100 years of the establishment of the CPC by achieving the dreams and goals set forth by the founding fathers of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
It is important to understand that rural areas and agriculture play a significant role in the economic welfare of any country. China’s rural regions are a backbone to China’s overall development. Rural regions must ensure food security, continuous supply of agricultural goods and services, inheriting and transforming extraordinary Chinese traditions and culture. These rural areas also fight climate change by producing high-quality green products. Rural revitalization, food security, and consolidation of poverty relief are the priorities of China.
According to UNDP, rural revitalization refers to the ways, methods, and processes to positively transform the rural areas for future generations. Realizing the potential of the rural areas, the Chinese leadership has focused on the development of the rural economy, implementation of the strategy of revitalization followed by reform and opening-up. This entire process was clear to provide optimum assistance to the rural communities to build and create a solid base for the development of the country. The process of rural development has been divided into two major periods whereas the first period was from the founding of the PRC till the beginning of reform and opening-up (1949-1978) and the reform and opening-up period since 1978. Policies and frameworks have been made to further improve and speed the process for development and link rural to the industrial ecosystem of China.
In 2017, President Xi Jinping shared the idea of “implementing the rural revitalization strategy” during the 19th National Congress of the CPC, which has impacted rural livelihoods. In 2018, the Central Committee of the CPC and State Council issued a comprehensive document “2018-2022 Strategic Planning for Revitalization of Rural Areas” to highlight the process for rural development. This was a historic document outlining a roadmap for success in building a moderately prosperous socialist country where there is zero poverty or hunger through the revitalization of the rural areas. The idea was to transform the agriculture models and practices through introducing new technologies, intelligent models, and practices that will shape the future of China.
This important document has provided the focus on transformation in governance structures in rural areas, improving living conditions to help economic prosperity in the rural areas. The agricultural and rural sectors have been improving, meanwhile, industrialization and urbanization create further opportunities for rural areas. Through new strategies, the challenge for imbalance was also resolved between rural and urban development and movement of population. Similar progress was also made in the public service for the rural areas by providing healthcare, education, and access to clean drinking water and technology. There has been substantial rural progress including the announcement of the establishment of the new National Administration for Rural Revitalization (NARR) in February. After these steps, by 2035, there will be ‘decisive progress on rural revitalization and by 2050, the rural areas will be fully rejuvenated with well-off farmers and strong agriculture sectors.
It is also important to note that the NARR under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has replaced the Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of the State Council which was established as early as 1993. The new government body was announced at the same time when President Xi declared a complete victory against poverty on February 25, 2021. According to Xi’s speech at a grand gathering to mark the nation’s poverty alleviation accomplishments and honor model poverty fighters, nearly 1.6 trillion yuan have been invested to fight poverty through not only innovation but also bridging the development gap between urban and rural areas via revitalization strategy. So, the establishment of the NARR marks a new beginning for the country to move ahead with confidence, zest, and zeal for new life and new endeavors.
As President Xi said, this declaration of victory is not only the time to celebrate but also the time to make efforts to create prosperity in togetherness. As the poverty alleviation has been achieved, now the focus will be on the three rural issues which are the well-being of farmers, rural areas, and agriculture.
The policy of rural revitalization complements the national development of China. We have witnessed that the development and reformation of rural China have created ripple effects of development from villages to industries. This has created a true essence of the concept of win-win progress and shared prosperity. What is important to remember here, China achieves this grand and historic success not only because of its national strength but also due to the strong leadership of the CPC. The CPC leadership has not only given the vision and direction for rural revitalization but also constantly supervised the progress and help effective implementation of the projects and programs designed from the central government to the different levels of the local governments. President Xi, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has visited the villages and the frontline workers during the poverty alleviation campaign over the past years.
China offers the world a model for poverty alleviation as it has helped a lot to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by lifting nearly 800 million Chinese people out of poverty. This is a lesson for all countries, especially for Pakistan that although it is a critical challenge to fight poverty it is not impossible. It is only a matter of priorities and commitment from the leadership to create a sound environment to help people to live with their full potentials.