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New socialist countryside envisioned
By Zhang Yingying (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-11 12:14

"We must plan and build a new socialist countryside that satisfies farmers' demands for water supply, road construction and clean and tidy surroundings. Only when farmers can reap real benefits from the campaign, will they become fully involved," said Wang Shiliang, secretary of the Zhaoyuan Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Dubbed as "the Gold Capital of China," Zhaoyuan in Shandong Province is a pioneer in the campaign of new socialist countryside construction, now in full swing across the country.

"Zhaoyuan will strive to meet the standards of a new socialist countryside over the next five years, with an annual per capita net income growth of 10 percent for local farmers," said Wang.

"Our target is that by 2010, remarkable progress will be made in rural economy; balanced development will be achieved in the agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors; and all rural labourers will be employed."

While looking to the future, Wang stressed on the role of model villages with a relatively good economic basis, well-adjusted agricultural structure and pleasant natural environment.

He feels these villages should give a shot in the arm to their neighbours to eventually lift the entire countryside to a new level.

In order to avoid disorderly development, the city has given high priority to a clear and comprehensive programme through which farmers are made aware of the prospects and implementation of this far-reaching movement.

In building a new countryside, Zhaoyuan will stick to the principles of nurturing new industries, creating a new environment, cultivating a new image for the farmers and establishing new systems, said Wang.

First of all, the city will work hard to give a face-lift of farmers' settlements through proper community planning and design. The city will set up 100 exemplary villages by the end of the year, in the hope to promote the practice throughout Zhaoyuan by 2010.

As to the countryside's economic development, Wang said the city will attach great importance to agricultural production while at the same time cultivating five pillar sectors - fruit, vegetable, starch noodles, grain and oil, and livestock, poultry and aquatic products.

Improving farmers' ability and know-how is also on the agenda. The city will offer both elementary education and professional training to farmers. Wang suggested that this helps farmers acquire strengths for market competition.

In addition, Zhaoyuan will make strenuous efforts to speed up the development of social welfare undertakings with a focus on aspects such as basic and professional education, public sanitation, safe births and sound healthcare, and logistic service.

According to Wang, future policy concerning social security will tilt in favour of rural areas, with more and more public service penetrating to the grassroots level and directly benefiting farmers.

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