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Effective Path for Rural Revitalization: A Review on A Path for Rural Revitalization in China: Theory, System, and Policy


Authors: Liu Shouying, Cheng Guoqiang, et al.

Year: 2021

Publisher: Science Press

ISBN: 9787030699060 (449 pages, in Chinese)

In 2017, the rural revitalization strategy was proposed. In 2018, the Rural Revitalization Strategic Plan was released. In 2020, China won a final victory in the fight against poverty. The No. 1 Document of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in 2021 and 2022 both focused on rural revitalization. It can be seen from the above-mentioned facts that rural revitalization has become an important path for rural development as well as coordinated development between urban and rural areas in China. To implement the rural revitalization strategy, China is accelerating the institutional reform. In February 2021, a new national agency, the National Rural Revitalization Administration, was established directly under the State Council. In addition, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Promotion of Rural Revitalization was promulgated in April 2021. Thanks to the top-level design, China has laid a solid foundation for promoting the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy. Meanwhile, in view of the complexity of the issues on “agriculture, countryside, and farmers,” especially the dilemma faced by agriculture and rural areas in the new stage of development, more systematic theoretical guidance and sound institutional guarantee are needed. In this context, Professor Liu Shouying chaired a National Natural Science Foundation Emergency Management Project, “Theory, Institutional Supply and Demand, and System and Policy Guarantee for Rural Revitalization,” and published the research outcomes in the book A Path for Rural Revitalization in China: Theory, System, and Policy.

This book establishes a theoretical framework for the analysis of rural revitalization and puts forward the implementation path, institutional guarantee, and policy measures to achieve rural revitalization. It consists of 11 chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 focus on the analysis of basic theories and the establishment of policy framework. Chapters 3 to 10 discuss and analyze the seven core issues of rural revitalization. Chapter 11 summarizes the main challenges of rural revitalization faced by China and puts forward related policy suggestions. In Chapters 1 and 2, the book analyzes the formation and presentations of urban-rural disparities, expounds on the backgrounds and purposes of the rural revitalization strategy, and puts forward the basic patterns, general thoughts, and policy needs of rural revitalization after China’s urbanization level reaches 60%. Furthermore, by taking the practice of rural revitalization in other countries as reference, the book establishes an institutional framework and policy system for the rural revitalization in China, and introduces some innovative policies and their implementation in the rural development of Chongzhou City, Sichuan Province. In the part on the core issues of rural revitalization, the book displays a series of theoretical analysis and field research in the aspects of the revitalization of rural industries, the increase of farmers’ income, the construction of villages, the support and protection of agricultural development, the smart governance of the countryside, the flow of production factors between urban and rural areas, the integration of urban and rural development, and the consolidation of poverty alleviation achievements. 

① In terms of the revitalization of rural industries, the authors propose that rural industries in the new era should be developed in line with the new social demands, with due emphasis on improving the quality of farm products, giving play to the new roles of agriculture in economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological aspects, and establishing better institutional mechanisms that can promote the integrated development of industries.

② In terms of the increase of farmers’ incomes, the authors analyze the factors influencing agricultural production and farmers’ income, and put forward some policy suggestions for ensuring food safety and increasing farmers’ incomes. 

③ In terms of the construction of villages, aiming at creating an ecological and livable environment, the authors analyze the challenges in the construction of rural settlements, and put forward related policy suggestions to guide the construction of rural space. 

④ In terms of the support and protection of agriculture, the authors analyze the main characteristics and existing problems of the current policies, in particular the dilemma and the potential causes, from the perspectives of the quantity of grain supply, the quality of farm products, the benefits of farming, the production cost of farm products, and the impacts of agricultural production on environment and ecology. They further put forward some measures to respond to the dilemma of agricultural development, to guarantee the quantity of grain supply, and to realize the green and efficient agricultural development. 

⑤ In terms of the smart governance of the countryside, the authors specify the general ideas for improving rural governance effectiveness, and put forward the operable path for digital rural governance. 

⑥ In terms of the integration of urban-rural development and the flow of production factors between urban and rural areas, the authors summarize the historical experience and future demands of land system reform in China, analyze the institutional obstacles to the flow of production factors between urban and rural areas, and put forward an institutional framework and some policy suggestions for the free flow of production factors between urban and rural areas. 

⑦ In terms of the consolidation of poverty alleviation achievements, the authors analyze the characteristics of poverty, the causes for poverty, and the modes of poverty alleviation through industrial development in severely impoverished areas in China, and put forward some policy suggestions to consolidate the achievements of poverty alleviation and to support the rural development in poverty-stricken areas. In Chapter 11, the book examines the backgrounds of the research project and summarizes the research results, in particular the actual challenges and the current policies of rural revitalization in China. The authors reiterate that different system setting in urban and rural areas is the key factor hindering the transformation of rural development. Thus, it is necessary to establish innovative institutional mechanisms to break the institutional barriers and to promote the integrated urban-rural development amid rural revitalization. This book is published when China achieved the goal of complete poverty alleviation and began to implement the strategy of rural revitalization. At this important moment, in view of the lack of theory and the constraints of institutional settings, it is not only necessary but also timely to summarize the experience of rural development in previous stages and to explore the action path for the future. This book contains the research achievements of a number of scholars from different disciplines, with the analyses and discussions on the suitable theories and effective paths for China’s rural revitalization from different perspectives, thus being featured by an interdisciplinary integration. In terms of contents, the book includes systematic analyses on the important issues of rural revitalization, with not only theoretical thinking but also practical suggestions for the implementation of rural revitalization strategy. In terms of methods, the book adopts comprehensive analysis methods, including qualitative theory elaboration and quantitative data analysis, especially the field research based first-hand data and actual cases, which make the problem analysis more accurate and the conclusions more credible. In this regard, this book has a great theoretical value and practical significance. In the new development stage, the principal conflict facing Chinese society has changed to that between the unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. For rural areas, this conflict is mainly manifested as the inadequacy of rural development and the imbalance between urban and rural development. Therefore, in a sense, the essence of rural revitalization is to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas by promoting the all-round development of rural areas, and to promote the integrated development between urban and rural areas by developing a better relationship between them. Facing such a grand issue, the relevant theoretical construction and institutional design should attach importance not only to the overall development of rural areas, but also to the profound transformation of urban-rural relationship in economic, social, ecological, cultural, and spatial domains, with the aim of gaining a new understanding on the essence and the values of rural areas. For example, from the economic perspective, the gradual free flow of production factors between urban and rural areas, such as land, talents, capital, and technology, will bring about the rapid growth of rural economy including agriculture and then the comprehensive transformation of rural industrial structure, with the proportion of non-agricultural economy, including some new industries, increasing significantly. This will make rural areas become an economic region similar to urban areas in terms of industrial structure. For another example, from the spatial perspective, with the comprehensive transformation of rural economy and the continuous advancement of urbanization process, the city and the countryside, as two forms of human settlements, will be incorporated into a unified urbanization framework and be regarded as urbanized spaces with different spatial characteristics. The difference between them lies more in the density, scale, form, and landscape of the physical environment, rather than the mode of economic production, the form of social organization, and the pattern of administrative organization in a traditional sense. In addition, from the perspectives of ecological civilization and cultural revival, the ecological value of rural areas as a natural base and the cultural value of rural areas as a local response to the impacts of globalization should not be ignored.

Source: China City Planning Review, 2022,31(03), pp. 84-85.