Home StocksAsia China Extends Stimulus to Rural Regions $BABA $BIDU

China Extends Stimulus to Rural Regions $BABA $BIDU

by S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D

A three-year action plan released by the Chinese government will inject new economic vitality into the nation’s vast rural regions through efforts to boost local commerce activities.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the population of China’s rural regions was 501.9 million in 2021. This represents 48.5% of the total population of China.

The population of China’s rural regions has been declining in recent years, as more people have moved to urban areas in search of jobs and better opportunities. In 2000, the rural population was 661.8 million, or 60.3% of the total population.

The decline in the rural population is due to a number of factors, including:

  • The rise of the Chinese economy, which has created more jobs in urban areas.
  • The improvement of education and healthcare in rural areas, which has made it more attractive for people to stay in rural areas.
  • The government’s policies to promote urbanization, which have made it easier for people to move to urban areas.

The decline in the rural population has a number of implications for China. It means that there is a smaller pool of labor available in rural areas, which could impact the country’s economic growth. It also means that there are fewer people to care for the elderly and the landless in rural areas.

The government of China is aware of the challenges posed by the decline in the rural population. It has implemented a number of policies to address these challenges, such as providing financial assistance to rural areas and promoting rural development.

At a government press conference held Tuesday, officials of multiple ministries spoke of the measures and targets under the plan, seeking to strengthen the commerce system across the nation’s counties to improve rural farmers’ income and upgrade their consumption trends.

Li Gang, an official with the Ministry of Commerce, said that the central government would continue funding counties to improve the local commerce networks and logistics distribution system and innovate and upgrade township business centers, bazaars, township markets, and village convenience stores.

The central government funding will also support digitalization and chain-store venture by rural business entities and encourage qualified rural areas to explore and develop smart logistics, instant retail, and other new business models.

“In terms of improving the supply of high-quality agricultural products, the action plan proposes to improve the quality of these product supplies, enhance the commercialization of agricultural products, and accelerate the establishment of agricultural brands,” Li said.

Song Danyang, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, specified that the ministry would support local counties’ efforts to enhance the competitiveness of their agricultural brands.

“From production to circulation and to consumption, we will promote improved seed varieties, quality improvement, brand building, and standardized production, strengthen the basic infrastructure facilities such as distribution centers, and facilities for processing, warehousing, packaging, and cold chains,” Song said.

The official added that the ministry would carry out trial projects in 110 counties that seek to ease the flow of agricultural products from rural areas into cities by beefing up online sales services and support for these products.

Government data showed that online retail sales of agriculture products in China reached 531.38 billion yuan (about 74 billion U.S. dollars) in 2022, up 9.2 percent year on year.

Bian Zuodong, an official with the State Post Bureau, said that delivery services would come to the doorsteps of rural residents by building or renovating county-level logistics distribution centers and express delivery and logistics sites in towns and villages.

The action plan also encourages rural areas rich in cultural and tourism resources to enrich tourism products for leisure, farmhouse entertainment, and self-driving tours to attract more urbanites to the countryside.

“At present, there are more than 6,000 provincial-level, 1,597 national-level tourism-focused villages and towns, and four world-class tourist villages (in China),” said Wu Kefeng, an official with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Wu said the ministry would guide counties to enrich their tourism products, explore innovative business models, and help rural populations increase income.

The Chinese government on Monday publicized the three-year action plan to strengthen the nation’s county-level commerce system to promote the integrated development of urban and rural areas and rejuvenate the nation’s rural regions. 

Shayne Heffernan

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