Haikou – Experts attending an international forum called for China to set the goal of eliminating the social group of migrant workers in the new 12th Five-Year Plan.
"Making the migrant worker status history is a breaking point in dismantling the dual urban-rural system," said Chi Fulin, president of the China Institute for Reform and Development – the forum host in Haikou of South China.
China is drafting a comprehensive development plan for the coming five years, which is believed to be crucial not only for China's sustainable growth but also for the world economic development.
Chi also suggested that work should also start during the 12th Five-Year Period to integrate the current urban-rural resident registration systems and encompass rural migrant workers who now work in cities under all the basic public services in cities.
"Enabling migrant workers to become full urban residents should become the public duty of the government and a part of the revenues the governments make from selling the land should be used to help provide basic urban housing for migrant workers," Chi said.
China "need to build consensus in all sectors of the society" to address the problems in agriculture, rural villages and among farmers, Napoleaon Navarro, deputy country director of UNDP, said during the forum.
Better planning is required for China to start removing all obstacles that stand in the way for the 150 million migrant workers from becoming full urban citizens, Navarro said.
China should also promote systematic reforms to make its financial, land and other public services more equitable to farmers, Navarro said, adding that there is need to improve the management structure to enable citizens to participate in the rural governance.
More than 200 scholars from home and overseas gathered at the two-day forum to brainstorm over the trends and challenges in urban-rural integration, which has been identified as the key rural reform in the coming 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015).
While the participants shared experiences in their pilot projects to provide better public services to the farmers and improve their quality of life, they also identified main problems and even malpractices in the name of "rural development" or "urban-rural integration".
The practice to dismantle the villages and take the rural land for urban development has hurt the farmers' interests, Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, said during his one-hour keynote speech.
He said the government must enhance its control over the use of the land in rural areas while preserving the household-based agriculture management.
He warned that malpractices in forced land-use sales for urban development may cause potential disaster as rural villages formed over the centuries are now disappearing and a great number of rural residents have not only lost their land but also their historical roots.