BEIJING -- The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Sunday approved a decision on major issues concerning rural reform and development at the close of a four-day plenum.
Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a work report at the third Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee, which was held from October 9 to 12 in Beijing.
The country was facing challenges in its rural development and reform, but it would firmly push forward the work, said the communique issued after the plenum.
"Rural infrastructure is still weak and needs improving. Rural development is lagging behind and needs support. Farmers' income increases slowly and needs speeding up," said the document.
"We will firmly push forward the rural reform. We will continue to emancipate the mind," it said. "We shall work out new concepts and ideas to solve the problems in rural development."
The government would try to make a breakthrough in reforming the rural system, proceed in liberating the rural economy and improving its dynamics, create a better economic environment, improve rural development policy, it said.
China will stick to and improve its rural basic economic system, the communique said. The system is based on the household contract responsibility system which entrusts the management and production of public owned farmlands to individual households through long-term contracts.
It will set up a "strict and normative" land management system in the countryside, expand policy support for agriculture, establish a modern rural financial network and a system to balance the development between rural and urban areas, and improve the rural democracy.
In the communique, the CPC promised to invest more government budget in public service in rural areas, including education, health care, employment, housing and pension sectors.
It also asked Party organs and governments at all levels to put rural development at the top of their agendas and embody the national rural development strategy in policies, planning, budgets and assigning officials.
It set a goal to double the per-capita disposable income of rural residents by 2020 from the 2008 level.
The CPC has always placed great importance on agriculture, rural development and farmers' life as they are vital to the country's overall development, the communique said.
The rural reform triggered China's economic reform three decades ago. It contributed to the establishment of the country's basic economic system and socialist market economy, improvement of people's life and modernization process, it said.
A total of 202 full members and 166 alternate members of the Committee attended the plenum, according to the communique.
Members of CPC central commission for discipline inspection and top officials of the relevant departments were also present at the session, the communique said.
Some delegates to the 17th CPC National Congress who have been working on agriculture and rural development at the grass roots, and experts and scholars on agriculture, rural areas and farmers also attended the plenum.
The plenum also analyzed the economic situation. The communique noted that the general situation in China was good, the economy had kept a relatively fast growth, the financial sector had been stable, and the basic trend of the country's economic development had not changed.
However, the plenum held that the turbulence of the international financial market had intensified, and the global economic growth had slowed down. The number of uncertain and unstable factors in the international economic environment had increased, while the domestic economic operation also suffered from some contradictions and problems.
"Therefore, we had to be mindful of potential dangers, and be prepared to take challenges," the communique said.
Income of Rural Residents to Double
China's ruling Communist Party said on Sunday that it would strive to double the per-capita disposable income of rural residents by 2020 from the 2008 level.
The goal was part of the decision made at the close of the third Plenary Session of the 17th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, which focused on issues concerning rural reform and development.
Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a work report at the four-day plenum, held from October 9 to 12 in Beijing.
The government would also boost consumption of rural residents by a big margin and basically eliminate absolute poverty in rural areas by 2020, according to a communique issued on the plenum's conclusion.
Per-capita disposable income was recorded at 4,140 yuan ($605) in rural areas in 2007, a year-on-year gain of 9.5 percent in real terms. A rise of at least 6 percent was expected for 2008, according to a government report in March.
The rural population mired in absolute poverty was reduced to 15 million last year, down from 250 million in 1978.
Targets set at the plenum for rural reform and development till 2020 also included "improving the system of economic growth in the countryside and establishing a mechanism to integrate urban and rural areas in terms of economic growth and social development".
"The modernization of agriculture will advance with major progress, and agricultural productivity will be elevated to a higher level, with national grain security and product supplies guaranteed," said the communique.
The Central Committee also agreed a goal to improve grassroots democracy in the countryside, and vowed to guarantee equal public services in rural areas, such as education opportunities for all rural residents and better medical services and subsistence support.
The communique said there were several "musts" which should be followed:
-- strengthening the position of agriculture as the foundation of the national economy and putting the food security of 1.3 billion people as the top priority.
-- protecting farmers' rights and ensuring the aim and outcome of all the work of the Party and the state is to realize, safeguard and expand the fundamental interests of the majority of the farmers.
-- unremittingly liberating and developing the productive forces in rural areas and make reform and innovation as the fundamental driving force for the development of the rural regions.
-- taking into overall consideration the development of both urban and rural regions.
-- upholding the Party's role as the leadership in the development of the rural areas.
The communique outlined the plan for advancing rural reform and development in the next few years, giving priority to reform and innovation, developing modern agriculture, boosting the capacity of agricultural production, and developing public utilities in rural regions.
Yu Youjun Removed from CPC Central Committee
The session on Sunday also approved a proposal from the CPC disciplinary organ for the removal of Yu Youjun from the CPC Central Committee.
Delegates confirmed a decision made by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on September 5 to subject Yu's Party membership to a two-year probationary period.
Delegates to the plenary session, which ended on Sunday, discussed and adopted a report submitted from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Yu.
Born in 1953, Yu was appointed Vice Minister of Culture in September 2007. He had previously served as head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee, Shenzhen mayor, deputy Hunan governor and Shanxi governor.
The plenary session decided according to the Party constitution to appoint in his place 54-year-old Wang Xinxian, the original alternate member of the 17th CPC Central Committee, who is also the vice president and Party chief of China Disabled Persons' Federation.