By EINAR TANGEN
ON February 5, China’s central authorities unveiled a three-year action plan to improve the rural living environment.
The action plan was jointly released by the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council.
Improving the rural living environment is an important task for the country to accomplish its goal of building a moderately prosperous society by 2020. It has great significance to the well-being of farmers and harmony of rural society, according to the document.
“Although progress has been made, the living environment in rural China is very unbalanced with many areas in the grip of neglect and disorder. It falls far short of people’s expectations and marks a key weakness in social and economic development,” it said.
The country aims to make remarkable improvements in the rural living environment by 2020. Villages should be clean and tidy, and residents should have enhanced hygiene and health awareness.
The document lists some key tasks including garbage sorting, toilet upgrades, residential sewage treatment, and village management.
Eastern China and the developed areas in central and western China should fully implement these tasks. Remote and underdeveloped regions of the country should meet basic standards of keeping the environment clean and tidy, on the basis of ensuring farmers’ basic living standards.
The authorities told local and central government organs to increase fiscal input. Local governments are encouraged to issue government bonds to improve the environment. Major banks including China Development Bank, Agricultural Development Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, and Postal Savings Bank of China are advised to increase credit and loans to support related projects.
Private companies are also encouraged to join the plan through standardized implementation of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schemes and franchised businesses.
Although China has become the world’s second-largest economy, some toilets in poor rural areas are still little more than makeshift shelters surrounded by bunches of cornstalks, while others are open pits next to pigsties, leading to problems such as contamination and pollution from human waste. China launched a “toilet revolution” at tourist sites nationwide in 2015 to make such facilities cleaner and more regulated. During the coming three years, authorities aim to add 47,000 toilets and renovate 17,000 at tourist sites, according to a plan released by the China National Tourism Administration.
China recently released a package of policies under the “No. 1 central document” of the year, charting the roadmap for the country’s rural vitalization strategy.
There is quite a lot to be accomplished in rural areas where opportunities for development have arisen as the country enters a new era, said the document jointly released by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. The “No. 1 central document” is the name traditionally given to the first policy statement of the year released by the central authorities, and is seen as an indicator of policy priorities.