For China to achieve "The Chinese Dream"of national rejuvenation, eliminating extreme poverty was necessary - but it was not sufficient. China must continue to fight poverty by reducing still-substantial relative poverty and close the still-excessive wealth gap, primarily between rural and urban areas.
Enhancing rural standards of living is China's long-term commitment and President Xi allows no delay in making the historic transition from poverty alleviation to "Rural Vitalization". Without the vitalization of the countryside, there can be no social stability, no common prosperity, no national rejuvenation.
But while grand visions are formulated by central leadership, they must be implemented by local, grassroots officials - and this is especially true of rural vitalization. We focus on grassroots officials at the township and village levels. We watch how they work: how they interact with people in their charge, how they respond to upper-level government.
Under President Xi Jinping, China defines its national goal of becoming a "fully modernized, socialist nation" as being prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful. Actualizing these adjectives largely depends on the success of rural vitalization, which in turn depends on the grassroots officials who implement the programs - officials whose challenges include constantly "on the road", little rest, low welfare, minimum opportunities for promotion - plus complaints from villagers below and pressures from officials above.
That's why new policies promote the care of grassroots officials: easing their burdens by fighting pointless formalities, reducing the number of meetings, and providing incentives for serving the people including salary guarantees and opportunities for career advancement.
To achieve these goals, the Party is strengthening its leadership over agriculture and rural areas, improving rural governance, building grassroots cadre teams, providing dispute resolution mechanisms, and bolstering the village-level collective economy. It exhorts grassroots officials to go deep into the fields and farmhouses to listen to the voices of the masses and to understand their needs. Grassroots problems impeding the building of a prosperous countryside include the quality of rural industries, infrastructure, public services, civilized culture, ecology and governance. China's grand vision goes to 2035 and 2050, when standards of living in rural and urban areas should be roughly equal. It is a grand vision - but a tall order.