National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) People's Republic of China

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Vice-minister Du Ying of the NDRC Gave A Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd China-EU Regional Development Policy Dialogue and the Seminar

2008-11-28

 

Dear Commissioner Hübner, Deputy Mayor Tong Xiaoping, Colleagues and Experts, and Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my great pleasure to meet you all in Chongqing, this beautiful mountainous city, and attend the 3rd China-EU Regional Development Policy Dialogue and the Seminar on the Integrated Development of Urban and Rural Areas. First of all, please allow me to represent the National Development and Reform Commission to extend our sincere welcome to Ms. Hübner, Commissioner of the European Union, the representatives and experts from the European Union, as well as the representatives and experts from the related departments of China present at the seminar, and extend our sincere thanks to Chongqing City for its efforts in organizing this seminar.

In 2006, in accordance with the joint declaration made by the leaders of the two sides, China and the European Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Regional Policy Cooperation and established a mechanism of regular exchanges on regional policy. In the past two years, with the mutual trust and joint efforts, China and the European Union have engaged in good exchanges and cooperation on regional development research, and we have gained further knowledge and understanding of, and have learned many beneficial experiences from, the regional policies of the European Union. As an important content of the good cooperation between China and the European Union in the past two years, the comparative study of the Chinese and EU regional policies has produced some preliminary fruits, which will be fully exchanged at this seminary. I congratulate you on this, and look forward to more fruits.

Ladies and gentlemen!

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the coordinated development of various regions, and clearly put forward the strategy of coordinated regional development, which stipulates the leading development of the eastern region, the Development of Western Region, the Rise of the Central Region, and the Rejuvenation of the Northeast, in The Outline of the 11th Five-Year Plan. In the last two years, the regional development in China has demonstrated promising trends.

 

First of all, the regional development has seen obviously stronger coordination. The "Four Blocs", namely, the eastern, central and western regions and the Northeast, have all demonstrated strong development momentum. The western and central regions have been developing with a particularly strong momentum, with their major economic indicators growing as fast as or even faster than those of the eastern region, narrowing the regional gaps to a certain degree. What's more, this has been achieved without the development speed of the eastern region slowing down, indicating that the strategy and policies to boost the coordinated development of various regions has been effective.

Secondly, the dynamic and initiative of the underdeveloped regions have obviously increased. Thanks to the support of the central government, the infrastructure, the investment and financing environment, and the system and policy environment of the underdeveloped regions have gradually improved. Especially, as the price reform for the resources deepens continuously, the regions that have and export plenty of resources have gained broader room for their development and more institutional and policy guarantees. The underdeveloped regions all have brimming vitality, and have obtained obviously stronger capabilities of developing on their own.

Thirdly, the key areas have played a more remarkable leading role in regional development. Aiming to bring into full play their comparative advantages, the various regions have accelerated the strategic adjustment of their economic structures for their further optimization, and have fostered a number of key areas with strong development dynamic and outstanding capabilities of economic conglomeration, which have become new growth poles of regional development.

Fourthly, the regional development has gained a richer meaning. We have paid attention to not only economic development but also the development of social undertakings, combining material civilization with spiritual civilization and ecological civilization. In recent years, upholding the principle of public finance, the central government has increased its general transfer payments and special transfer payments to the central and western regions and the Northeast, having thus effectively promoted the development of the causes of education, health, culture and social security, the ecological construction, and the environmental protection in these regions.

In short, the implementation of the overall strategy of China for coordinated regional development is an important content of the practice of the scientific development outlook, and has lent strong support to the endeavor to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way and cultivate a harmonious socialist society at a faster speed. On the other hand, we are soberly aware that regional imbalance has been a basic condition of China, the trend of expanding regional development gap in China has not been essentially checked, and the tasks of realizing coordinated regional development remains very challenging. For this reason, we are willing to continue our cooperation with the international community including the European Union, and learn more successful experiences from other countries and regions in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen!

I think it is very meaningful for this seminar to have the "integrated development of urban and rural areas" as its theme. As another basic condition of the country, China is a developing country with the majority of its population being rural residents. Therefore, as the coordinated development of various regions, the integrated development of the urban and rural regions is of great significance. The reform of China started from the countryside. During the 30 years after that, the development of Chinese agriculture and countryside achieved conspicuous successes. The annual per capita income for peasants increased from 134 yuan in 1978 to 4140 yuan in 2007, and the rural landscape experienced radical changes. On the other hand, we have to admit that the urban-rural dual social structure in China formed long ago has not been essentially solved. Agriculture still develops in an extensive manner, the infrastructure facilities and technical equipment for agriculture are still backward, the levels of rural social undertakings and public services are still low, the income gap between the urban and rural residents is still expanding, and the mission of altering the backwardness of countryside and integrating the urban and rural development is still daunting.

The integrated development of urban and rural areas concerns not only the development and reform of the countryside but also the overall situation of the national economy. Since the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the central government has adhered to the scientific development outlook as the governing principle for the overall development of economy and society, raised the basic requirements that the solution of "the countryside, agriculture and peasants problem" be treated as the top priority of the work of the whole Party, clarified the basic strategy of urban and rural integration, made the basic judgment that China, in a general sense, has entered a developmental stage requiring industries and cities to help agriculture and countryside, formulated the guiding principles that industries support agriculture, cities assist countryside, and the government take less from while give more to agriculture for its rejuvenation, and planned the basic task of building the socialist new countryside, thus creating a good policy environment for pursuing the uniform development of the urban and rural areas. The 3rd plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China concluded recently in October 2008 further pointed out that China, in a general sense, has arrived at a developmental stage requiring the industries and cities to help agriculture and countryside, a critical moment for speeding up the reform of traditional agriculture and adopting a road of modern agriculture with Chinese characteristics, and an important period for breaking the urban-rural dual social structure and bringing the new era of uniform economic and social development for urban and rural areas. The integration of the urban and rural development will be an important task of Chinese development and reform in a period to come.  

Above all, the integration of urban and rural development requires the adjustment of the patterns for distributing national incomes and the refocusing of the input of public finance on the rural areas. On this precondition, efforts should be mainly directed toward the following 5 aspects of the work: (1) The planning of land use and construction of the urban and rural areas should be integrated in order to rationally arrange the spatial distribution of urban construction, farmland protection, industrial conglomeration, village construction, and biological conservation. (2) The industrial development in urban and rural areas should be integrated in order to optimize the industrial structure of the countryside, develop rural service industries and township enterprises, and guide the productive factors, including capital, technologies, talents, and managerial skills, to flow from the urban areas toward the rural areas. (3) The infrastructure facilities and public services of the urban and rural areas should be integrated in order to comprehensively raise the level of guarantee to the public undertaking of rural areas by government finance and gradually establish a uniform system of public services for both urban and rural areas. (4) The labor and employment services of the urban and rural areas should be integrated in order to develop a uniform human resources market for the urban and rural areas, guide the peasants to migrate orderly for employment. Meanwhile, efforts should be made to strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of the migrant workers from countryside, improve their working conditions, and raise the level of their social security. (5) The social management of the urban and rural areas should be integrated and the residence registration system should be reformed to relax the requirements for obtaining a residence registration at a small or medium city and allow the peasants who have a stable job and residence in a city to become urban residents in an orderly manner. To integrate the development of urban and rural areas will be a long-term and daunting historic task for China as well as a complex and systematic project demanding relentless efforts.

We have noticed that the European Union has had rather mature theories on and successful practice in harmonizing the development of urban and rural areas. The European Union has also sent to the seminar a strong delegation. We have also invited to this seminar the officials from the relevant departments of the State Council and the famous experts of China in the fields of urbanization and rural issues. I hope that the participants of the seminar will make in-depth discussions and exchanges and have full expression of your opinions on the topics of how to integrate the development of urban and rural areas and how to perfect the related policies, so as to contribute your brilliant ideas to the active implementation of integrated development of urban and rural areas in both China and the European Union and the improving of the welfare for both urban and rural residents.

 

Ladies and gentlemen!

Chongqing is the only city directly under the central government in the western region, and is also a national-level experimental area for the comprehensive reform to match urban and rural integration approved by the State Council. The city is a typical case where a large city heads a large rural area, and has been trusted with the glorious mission of exploring the road of urban and rural integration for this country. It is good idea to choose Chongqing to host the seminar, and it is a good idea to hold the seminar shortly after the 3rd plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China concluded. I sincerely hope that the seminar will produce rich fruits with the concerted efforts of the representatives and experts from both China and the European Union.

Finally, I wish you a happy stay in Chongqing, and in China. May the 3rd China-EU Regional Development Policy Dialogue and the Seminar achieve full success!

Thank you all!

 

(Provided by Department of Regional Economy)