On May 5, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council issued the Opinions on Establishing and Improving the System, Mechanism and Policies of Urban-Rural Integrated Development, proposing that some qualified municipalities and counties should be selected to set up national pilot zones for urban-rural integrated development.
General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping explicitly pointed out that the pilot zones are of great significance to the overall reform. He suggested careful planning and bold exploration in seeking good experiences that can be followed and popularized.
In recent years, the integrated development of urban and rural areas has made important progress. At the same time, we should be soberly aware that there are still many institutional obstacles in the areas of population, land, finance, rural property rights and the entry of industrial and commercial capital into the countryside.
Pilot zones aim to break the shackles embedded in the current systems and mechanisms in targeted key sectors and links, striving to take the lead in eliminating outdated rules and difficult problems and to explore the paths and models for realizing reform.
At the same time, pilot zones provide an effective platform for primary-level cities to explore paths toward urban-rural integrated development. Differentiated pilot programs are encouraged in different zones. It is also advisable to expose problems and contradictions as part of a stress test. The aim is to achieve benign interaction between top-level design and grassroots exploration.
According to the reform tasks put forward by the Opinions, the pilot zones should be implemented through the following five approaches.
The first approach is to explore systems and mechanisms that are conducive to the rational allocation of factors in urban and rural areas. The main objectives of this approach are as follows: to enhance the mechanism that grants urban residency to rural people who have moved to cities, to set up a system encouraging urban talent to work in villages, to improve the rural financial service system, and to establish a mechanism for promoting the flow of industrial and commercial capital to the countryside.
The second approach is to explore systems and mechanisms that are conducive to the sharing of basic public services between urban and rural areas. The main objectives include the establishment of a mechanism for the balanced allocation of educational resources between urban and rural areas, the improvement of the rural medical and health service system and urban-rural public cultural service system, and the coordination of the urban-rural social assistance system.
The third approach is to seek systems and mechanisms that are conducive to the integrated development of urban-rural infrastructure, including those related to infrastructure planning, construction, management and protection.
The fourth and fifth approaches pursue systems and mechanisms including those that can boost rural economic diversity and ensure the sustainable growth of farmers’ income so as to alleviate poverty.
The Opinions cl
early states that the reform of the urban-rural integrated development system should first make breakthroughs in economically developed areas, metropolitan areas and urban suburbs. This means that the establishment of pilot zones will follow the principle of “fewer but better” in paving the way for reform on the whole.
This article was edited and translated from People’s Daily. Zhang Juwei is director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.