The Communist Party of China (CPC) issued a policy document on Sunday urging for the improved social welfare enjoyed by the country's 900 million rural population.
The Decision on Major Issues Concerning the Advancement of Rural Reform and Development was approved by the CPC Central Committee on Oct. 12 in a plenary session.
RURAL CULTURE AND EDUCATION
The document urged for further cultural development in the country's rural areas, quoting that "rural cultural development is of great importance to building a new socialist countryside."
It demanded TV, radio and movies be more accessible in the rural areas, and more community cultural centers to be set up in the villages along with countryside libraries.
Cultural products based on rural lives and activities, which the farmers are willing to participate and have easy access to should be encouraged, the document said.
It urged urban organizations to go to the countryside to spread scientific and literacy knowledge and offer medical services to farmers, and help them break away from superstitions and build a harmonious society that advocated gender equality and honesty.
The document also said efforts must be made to improve the education level in rural areas, especially for the left-behind children, those whose parents are both working in the cities, and children from economically-challenged families.
Professional trainings should be provided in townships to train farmers, while college students were encouraged to go the countryside to work.
Quality of teachers in the rural areas would be improved, along with their salaries and working conditions, the document said.
SOCIAL WELFARE AND RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE
In addition, efforts must be made to ensure all farmers can enjoy basic medicare service by sticking to the rural cooperative medical system, the document said.
It demanded every county and township should have its own medical institution, while villages in the rural areas were also encouraged to set up medical stations to provide "safe and inexpensive medical service" to farmers.
Endemic diseases, infectious diseases and disease that affects both human beings and livestock must be closely guarded against, with the focus on prevention of such illness.
The one-child policy must be adhered to in the countryside to retain a low birth rate in the rural areas, and to deal with a disproportional sex ratio, the document said.
It also demanded to accelerate the construction of a comprehensive social welfare system in the countryside.
A new old age insurance system in the rural areas should be established in the countryside with the premiums paid by the beneficiaries and the collective and government subsidies. Authorities should find ways to incorporate the system with the urban old-age insurance system, it said.
In addition, the livelihood of farmers whose land had been requisitioned must be guaranteed before the requisition procedure, the document said.
The rural minimum living allowance system must be perfected with larger subsidies from the central and provincial budget, to cover all applicable with improved benefits.
Living standards of those who receive five guarantees, namely food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses provided by local governments for their lack of relatives and working abilities, should be in accordance with the average living standards of the neighborhood, the document demanded.
It also urged to improve the relief system to help farmers affected by natural disasters and boost social welfare for the old, the handicapped, the poor and orphans.
Prevention of disability and rehabilitation for the disabled must also be strengthened in the countryside, the document said.
The document highlighted the importance of infrastructure construction in the rural areas.
The committee vowed to ensure villagers to have safe drinking water within five years and townships be connected by cement roads by the end of 2010.
Efforts should be made to develop renewable energy resources, including methane, wind and solar energy, it said, adding Internet service would be accessible for more farmers.
POVERTY REDUCTION AND DISASTER RELIEF
The committee pledged to provide more low-income farmers with financial aid and give more assistance to people in remote areas, revolutionary bases, ethnic minority regions and poverty-stricken places.
International cooperation should be enhanced to fight poverty in the countryside, it read.
To install an upgraded natural disaster forecasting system and raise farmers' awareness of emergency response and relief was also one of the document's high points.
The capacity of forecasting disastrous weather, ecological disasters and monitoring earthquakes should be strengthened and more needs to be done to promote farmers' disaster prevention and relief awareness, it said.
The paper also set the direction for public facility safety standards, saying schools and hospital buildings should all be safe and up to construction standards.
All-out efforts should be made to restore the agriculture work in the area struck by the May 12 Sichuan earthquake and more measures need to be adopted to heal and improve the ecological conditions in the quake-hit region, it noted.
HARMONIOUS SOCIETY IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
It also emphasized the importance of maintaining a "harmonious" and "stable" environment in the countryside.
More channels should be opened to solicit farmers' opinions and address their complaints and problems, said the paper, adding leaders should pay frequent visits to farmers and solve villagers' problems at the grassroot level.
The committee further underscored ethnic relations. The equal, united, mutually-aided and harmonious ethnic relations should be consolidated and developed, it said.
Interference with village affairs by any religious groups or clans would be objected; evil cults in villages were prohibited and any mafia-style force would incur severe crackdown, it said.