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Xi urges rural development

By Jin Zhu in Beijing and Zhou Lihua in Wuhan (China Daily)

10:09, July 24, 2013

BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhuanet) -- President Xi Jinping called for more efforts to boost the development of rural areas and promote more urban and rural integration.

Even if the number of people living in cities reaches 70 percent of the population, 400 million to 500 million people will still live in rural areas. Those regions must not become deserted and remain only as hometowns in people's memories, Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying.

In 2012, about 52 percent of the Chinese population lived in urban areas, a 20 percent increase from the early 1980s, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Xi urged local governments to promote the simultaneous development of urban construction and modern agriculture.

A beautiful countryside should be created for the benefit of farmers. Money should not be wasted on extravagances, such as whitewashing a house's exterior to hide its shabby rooms, Xi said during a visit to Ezhou in Hubei province on Monday.

Meanwhile, ancient villages should be protected during rural modernization, he said.

Xi also visited a hybrid rice breeding station in Ezhou, which was developed by a scientific group led by Wuhan University Professor Zhu Yingguo.

"It was my first time to meet President Xi," Zhu said. "He was very nice and approachable. Moreover, he was quite familiar with agricultural issues and asked me many professional questions during his 20-minute stay."

Xi also inspected rice in the field, Xinhua reported.

Xi encouraged agricultural scientists to continue their hard work because the country's food safety has to be guaranteed.

"His visit shows a high degree of concern for the country's agricultural and rural development among senior government authorities," Zhu said.

Varieties of hybrid rice developed by Zhu's group have been widely planted in central and southern parts of China, such as Hubei, Hunan and Hainan provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, he said.

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