Moderate prosperity I – A viable way for rural vitalization
Updated 18:04, 02-Sep-2022

I'm Robert Lawrence Kuhn and here's what I'm watching: Rural vitalization in China, with highest national priority, and how new mechanisms are needed to make it work.

China cannot claim to attain "basic socialist modernization" - the country's goal for 2035 - if farmers, agriculture, and rural areas remain relatively weak. The challenge of rural vitalization is not only to improve traditional ways of working, but also to find novel, new ways of working. The first principle of rural vitalization is to focus on agriculture. Traditionally, many farmers have not been confident about their futures, as agricultural income has been very low.

For China to attain common prosperity, fresh thinking in agricultural economics is essential - and two key mechanisms are advancing science and technology and enabling large enterprises to partner with local villages.

Successful collaborations between rural villages and commercial enterprises leverage village resources and workers and utilize enterprise technology and critical mass. This requires village leadership to attract enterprises, which are motivated by profit, and requires enterprises to attract village leaders, who are motivated by bolstering the long-term development of their villages. A process accelerator is training local officials to be professional managers, which catalyzes the modernization of both local industries and rural governance. The Chinese government is constructing a comprehensive but ongoing plan for rural vitalization.

Here are just three of some two dozen policy initiatives.

1. Cultivate a group of "one village, one product" demonstration villages with "small and special products, sophisticated and beautiful formats, and integrated layout", forming a development pattern of multiple villages connected together.

2. Focus on seeds for agricultural modernization. Protect, develop and utilize germplasm resources for crops, livestock, poultry and fish. Provide long-term stable support for genetic improvement and breeding research.

3. Build the entire agricultural industry chain in multiple sectors - with distinctive characteristics, close connections, rich business types, value-added efficiency and active entrepreneurship. Optimize advantageous resources of the village and keep the main body of the industry chain in the county seat, while enabling farmers to share more of the value-added income of the industry.

Another mechanism for rural vitalization is non-farming township and village enterprises, which had flourished in the early years of reform, employing at its peak some dozens of millions of laborers. But when reform in cities attracted workers to migrate for higher pay, many rural enterprises collapsed.

But times change and rural enterprises, non-farming and farming, are making a comeback. Some are joint ventures with commercial companies; others are independent, empowered by e-commerce and astonishing logistics, such that any enterprise in China, rural no less than urban, can e-market and deliver products rapidly to anywhere in China. While the goals of rural vitalization are not new, the ways of working are new.

I'm Robert Lawrence Kuhn. I'm keeping Watch.

Script: Robert Lawrence Kuhn

Editors: Yang Yutong, Hao Xinxin

Designer: Qi Haiming

Videographer: Morgan Compagnon

Producer: Wang Ying

Supervisor: Mei Yan, Adam Zhu

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