Zhejiang strides toward common prosperity

By SHI JING and MA ZHENHUAN in Zhejiang| China Daily| Updated : Jul 30, 2021 L M S

Income target

A plan was released on July 19 by the Zhejiang authorities, aimed at building the province into a pilot zone to achieve common prosperity through high-quality development by 2025.

The plan states that an "olive-shaped social structure" should be formed in Zhejiang to make middle-income households the mainstay of the economy. The province should strive to become an example of how to mitigate disparities between regions, urban and rural areas, and incomes.

Annual per capita disposable income in Zhejiang should reach 75,000 yuan by 2025, while income disparity between urban and rural residents should be less than 1.9 times, according to the plan. The province's urbanization rate should reach 75 percent by 2025, with the income gap between urban and rural residents kept at a reasonable level, the plan states.

According to Yuan Jiajun, Zhejiang's Party secretary, common prosperity can be achieved through a further optimized social structure and a complete social system. High-quality integration between urban and rural areas through accelerated modernization of villages, deepened reform in rural areas and the advancement of agriculture can improve the quality of life in the countryside, he said.

"A new type of city-village relationship should be established. While complementing each other, urban and rural areas should seek concerted development and common prosperity," Yuan added.

Zheng Yongnian, a professor of politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), said consolidating social bases is crucial to achieving common prosperity. To this end, a two-way flow between urban and rural areas should be established in China.

"The nation has already invested heavily to address issues concerning agriculture, villages and farmers, but we can still see a one-way outflow of resources and people from villages. It is our mission to guide more middle-income earners to villages in order to form a two-way flow of urban and rural residents," he said.

Such a flow can be seen in Tengtou village, Ningbo city, eastern Zhejiang, which as early as 2010 set a target to make rural life more attractive for urban residents. By introducing more than 60 companies to Tengtou, green industries such as eco-friendly agriculture, landscaping, new energy and new materials now comprise 80 percent of the local annual GDP.

Fu Pingjun, Party secretary of Tengtou, said: "A pleasant environment is crucial to prosperity in rural areas. In the 1960s, Tengtou started to improve soil quality, renovate villagers' homes and collectively manage farmland. We have successfully turned our village into a garden, which is also one of the major reasons that we were a showcase at the 2010 World Expo (in Shanghai)."

Fu said that as prosperity in just one area is far from sufficient, a rural vitalization institute was founded in Tengtou in 2019, which has passed on the village's successful experience to more than 15,000 industry leaders and civil servants from other rural areas.

Chuxin Farm in Hengkantou village, Yuyao city, eastern Zhejiang, is one example of successfully combining urban and rural life. With investment from agricultural leader New Hope Group, the farm officially opened on July 13, integrating agriculture, catering and retailing.

Tang Shimin, the farm's general manager, said the complex was built in a rural area to attract more young people born in villages to return home and revitalize these areas.

"Urban residents can place orders to customize the type of vegetables they wish to grow with our help on the 28,000 square meters of land occupied by the farm. As courier services are not accessible every day in Hengkantou, villagers can store their agricultural produce temporarily in our freezers and have it delivered later," Tang said.

Watermelons the farm produced with local agricultural experts earlier this year sold out within a week via pre-ordering, although they were priced 30 percent higher than other such melons on the market.

"By introducing private enterprise, villagers can discover the latest industry trends, search for talent, seek financial help and technology empowerment. Our successful experience in Hengkantou has enabled us to apply this business model in other places, such as Jiangsu and Fujian provinces," Tang said.

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