30 Years of Agricultural Reform in China: Process, Experience and Prospects - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

30 Years of Agricultural Reform in China: Process, Experience and Prospects

Authors: Kong Xiangzhi et al

Extract from ” Teaching and Research, 2008“

The article describes the process of China’s agricultural reform, categorising it into four stages. The first stage, 1978-1984: The introduction of the household-responsibility system and the reconstruction of the rural micromanagement body. In this stage, the household-responsibility system became the main mode of management in our nation’s agriculture industry. The management system developed from a community system to a township system and township and village enterprises began to develop.The second stage, 1985-1991: the reform of the system of flow of agricultural products and the uprising of township and village enterprises. An important feature of this stage is the conflict between, integration of, as well as the growth and decline of the new and old system. It led to a standstill in the manufacturing of agricultural products such as grain and cotton. The third stage, 1992-1997: the proposal of an agricultural industrialisation management strategy, the emphasis of the stability of land contract management and gradual reform of the system for the flow of agricultural products such as grain and cotton.

This stage displayed a clear inclination towards market-orientedness, the stabilisation of land contract relations, as well as the reform of the flow system of agricultural products such as grain and cotton. The fourth stage, 1998 onwards: the implementation of strategies to coordinate urban and rural areas, as well as the beginning of the stage where industry supports agriculture and urban areas guide rural areas. The biggest change in agriculture and rural policy during this stage is the reduction, and eventually abolition, of agricultural tax and gradual increase in subsidies for farmers since the new century.The new rural co-operative healthcare system is constantly improved on, compulsory rural education has been incorporated into the scope of financial security, the system reform of agricultural product flow had a breakthrough and the internationalisation of agriculture has seen progress. These have led our country into a historical stage of development from agriculture to industry.

To conclude the 30-year agricultural reform experience, its fundamentals are to respect the farmers’ wishes, to handle the relationship between efficiency and fairness well, to combine gradual and radical forms of reform while keeping gradual reforms as the main strategy, as well as to uphold the fundamental direction of market reform.

Right now, our country’s agricultural reform and rural development is facing a series of new problems: the improvement of basic facilities are mainly taking place in the city; basic facilities such as rural roads and irrigation are inadequate; not only has the gap between the development of the rural community and the city not been reduced, it is widening; there is a rising trend in the outflow of agricultural factors; the prospects of agricultural and rural economic development look bleak; it is difficult to increase agricultural comparative efficiency and it is increasingly difficult to maintain a rural sustainable income. The challenge of shrinking the income gap between urban and rural residents is even greater, especially because there has been inflation in the cost of agricultural products since 2007. Agriculture is still the benchmark of national economic development. Agriculture and rural development are still in the crucial stage of difficulties and the foundation of agriculture has to be strengthened further.

At the same time, these new challenges indicate a new stage of development. In order to address these challenges, this article proposes an emphasis in the establishing of a robust public financial system in rural areas, the continual increase in support of agriculture from industries and of rural areas from the city. Institutional factors impeding the coordination of urban and rural areas have to be resolved. There should be a focus on changing the backwardness of rural areas to speed up the abolishing of a dual urban administration system, striving to establish an integration of urban and rural development planning, industrial distribution, infrastructure, public service, employment and social management. The construction of agricultural infrastructure also has to be enhanced. Furthermore, the rural financial system reform has to be accelerated and the construction of a rural area microsystem has to be accelerated under the stabilised basic operating system in rural areas, ushering in the development of specialised cooperative economic organisations in rural areas.

Page translations: