Xi's second speech in Two Sessions
Detailed instructions on food security & social welfare, protecting women
Xi Jinping on Sunday, March 6 visited national political advisors from the sectors of agriculture, welfare, and social security, who are attending the ongoing fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Xi participated in their joint group meeting and listened to their comments and suggestions.
Xi stressed that the supply of major agricultural products, the supply of grain in particular, must be secured as the top priority, and upgrading the comprehensive capacity for agricultural production must be placed in an even more prominent position. The agricultural production strategy based on farmland management and application of technology must be carried out to the letter. Continued efforts must be made to promote the high-quality development of social security, and a better social safety net must be further developed to secure the wellbeing of the people.
What did the CPPCC members talk about in front of the General Secretary?
CPPCC Members Yang Fengji, Wang Jing, Tang Junjie, Mo Rong, Yeshe Dawa, Wan Jianmin and Wang Haijing gave their opinions and suggestions on topics concerning the development of industries in rural areas, and reinforcement of the foundation for securing the quality of agricultural products. They also talked about how efforts should be made to promote innovation in the development of the seed industry, to address the deficiency of social security system, to advance the sustainable development of social welfare, to promote the modernization of agriculture and rural areas and to mobilize all social forces to strive for prosperity for all.
What did Xi say? Well, first of all, looking back the past year as he did on Friday [Pekingnology]
In the past year, Xi noted, faced with a grim and complex international situation and formidable tasks of advancing reform and development while maintaining stability, particularly under the grave impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CPC Central Committee has united and led the whole Party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups to rise to the challenges and fight tenaciously and have accomplished many endeavors.
We solemnly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party, and won the critical battle against poverty and completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects on schedule.
China has embarked on a new journey toward the second centenary goal of fully building a modern socialist country, attained major achievements in the pursuit of the cause of the Party and the country, and got the 14th Five-Year Plan off to a good start.
These hard-won achievements were the result of the tenacity of the entire Party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, as well as the concerted efforts of all CPPCC members, he said.
Looking at the present and future:
Xi stressed that at present, the state of global affairs is continuing to go through profound and complex changes. The world is experiencing the combined impact of major changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century, as competition among major countries is increasingly intense, and economic globalization is facing headwinds. The world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, while domestically, the tasks related to reform, development, and stability remain arduous. However, we need to take note of the strategically favorable conditions for China's development.
First of all, the strong leadership of the CPC. By exercising overall leadership and coordinating work in all areas, the Party's leadership has provided fundamental political guarantee for responding to the various major risks calmly.
Second, the marked institutional strengths of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Through practices such as responding to COVID-19 and winning the battle against poverty, the strengths of China's political and governance systems have become more evident. Order in China stands in stark contrast with disorder in the West.
Third, the solid foundation laid by China's sustained and rapid development. With significant improvements being made to its economic, scientific, defense and comprehensive strengths, China is now a large economy with a massive domestic market and ample room for adjustments. The country enjoys strong resilience and vitality, and the fundamentals sustaining its long-term economic growth remain unchanged.
Fourth, the long-term social stability. The Chinese people have gained a much stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. Notable advancement has been made in China's capacity of social governance, and its miracle of long-term social stability has continued.
Fifth, the spirit of self-confidence and self-reliance. The enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of the Chinese people have been further unleashed, and they are more proud, confident, and assured than ever before. The whole Party, the armed forces, and all Chinese people are high-spirited.
We should face the difficulties squarely while remaining confident, give full play to the historical initiative, rise to the challenges, have the courage to fight, and keep striving forward boldly to embrace the convening of the 20th National Congress of the CPC with concrete action, said Xi.
Now on to specific issues. First of all, long and detailed remarks on
Food security is among a country's most fundamental interests, Xi said. Of all things, eating matters most, and food is the most basic necessity of the people. Through enormous efforts, China is capable of feeding one-fifth of the global population with nine percent of the world's arable land and six percent of the freshwater resources. Seven decades ago, the country had an underfed population of 400 million, but today its 1.4 billion people are eating well with a great range of choices. This is a powerful answer to the question "Who will feed China?"
Stressing that the hard-won results should be consolidated and expanded, Xi urged against slacking off on the food security issue. Despite China's industrialization, food supply should never be considered an insignificant issue, and we cannot rely solely on the international market to solve it. China should be well-prepared, remain vigilant on food security, and adhere to the principle of self-sufficiency based on domestic grain production, guaranteed production capacity, moderate food imports, and technological support.
Xi stressed that the mechanism under which responsibilities for food security are assigned equally to both Party committees and governments should be fully enforced, that the assessment of responsibility system for food security should be strict, and that major agricultural production and sales areas, as well as areas where agricultural production and sales are balanced, should work together to ensure food supply and take responsibilities. The overall arrangement should be optimized by stabilizing the production of grain and corn while expanding the planting of soybean and oil seed crops, so as to ensure that the annual grain output remains above 650 million metric tons and that domestic grains play a main role in ensuring the food supply for the Chinese people. The farmers' enthusiasm to grow crops should be protected, and appropriately scaled agricultural operations should be developed, so that farmers will be able to gain increasing benefits. Stopping food waste in the catering industry is a long-term task, and we must make persistent efforts and work to build a resource-conserving society.
Xi pointed out that farmland is the lifeline of grain production and the foundation of the sustainable development of the Chinese nation. Farmland is for farming and can only be used to grow crops, especially grain crops. The strictest possible system for the protection of farmland must be implemented, the regulation over the use of farmland should be strengthened, cultivated land used for other purposes should be offset in a regulated way, how transferred land rights are used should be placed under strict supervision, idle land should be put into better use, and any attempt to use the farmland for purposes other than agriculture and specifically grain production should be resolutely stopped. All of the farmland must remain fertile. Agricultural belts for national food security will be established, farmland irrigation and water conservancy will be further improved, projects conserving chernozem soil will be implemented, and saline-alkali land will be transformed on a categorized basis, so as to develop about 66.7 million hectares of high-quality farmland. Measures to protect farmland must have teeth. Local party committees and governments at all levels should be held strictly accountable for farmland protection. The central authorities will make all the local authorities pledge themselves to protect farmland, assessment on officials must be strict, and anyone who ever breaks farmland protection rules will be held accountable throughout their lifetime, so as to ensure that China's total of 120 million hectares of farmland is a reliable figure.
Xi stressed that science and technology are key to food security. The security of germplasm resources is related to national security, meaning we must be determined to develop our country's seed industry so as to increase self-reliance in seed technology and ensure that the country's seed resources are self-supporting and under better control. We should take advantage of our institutional strengths, allocate advantageous resources in a down-to-earth manner, promote the establishment of a major innovation platform at national level for the seed industry, accelerate basic and frontline research, strengthen the collection, protection, development and use of seed resources, and speed up the industrialization of 生物育种 bio-breeding. The reform of the agricultural scientific mechanism should be furthered, the principal role of enterprises in innovation should be strengthened, and the systems for identifying seed varieties and protecting intellectual property rights should be upgraded to promote the high-quality development of our country's seed industry based on innovation chains.
[Comment: Positive signal for genetically modified crops.]
Xi pointed out, we should adopt a 大食物观 "Greater Food" approach, and, with the aim of better satisfying the people's needs for a better life, grasp the changes in people's food structure. While ensuring grain supply, we must also guarantee an effective supply of various foods including meat, vegetables, fruits and aquatic products. None of them should be lacking.
[Comment: 大食物观 "Greater Food" approach is new.]
While protecting the ecology and environment, we should shift our focus from farmland only to the whole country's land resources to develop, in line with their specific conditions, grain production, agribusiness, animal husbandry, fishing or forestry. As a result, we could put in place the production structure and regional layout for modern agriculture that are commensurate with market demands and the bearing capacities of resources and the environment. We can harvest food from forests, from rivers, lakes and seas, and from protected agriculture. Apart from traditional crops and livestock and poultry resources, we should exploit biological resources. By developing biological science and technology and bio-industries, we can obtain calories and protein from plants, animals and microorganisms.
[Comment: Positive for the aforementioned food sectors.]
We should proactively advance the supply-side structural reform in agriculture, employ multiple means to develop food resources in all respects and produce a rich variety of food items so that we can achieve food supply-and-demand balance and better meet the increasingly diverse food consumption needs of the people.
Now another subject: social affairs in rural areas.
Xi stressed that in advancing rural revitalization we should not just focus on economic development. We must also make efforts to build stronger primary-level Party organizations in rural areas, and attach high importance to raising farmers' intellectual and moral standards. We must pay special attention to promoting the rule of law in rural areas, improve rural governance, and enhance self-governance by villagers. We should give full play to village rules, code of conduct for villagers and family values to foster civility and pass on fine family traditions among rural people. We should improve the regularized mechanism for combating organized crime and rooting out local gangs in rural areas, and continuously crack down on organized and clan criminals. We should punish, in accordance with law, pornography, gambling, and drug-related crimes and illegal and criminal offenses against women and children in rural areas.
[Comment: Difficult not to recall the mother of eight found chained by the neck in rural Jiangsu Province, the recent case that outraged the Chinese people and prompted to now a national crackdown on human trafficking.]
On social safety net:
Xi noted that the largest social safety net of the world has been set up in China. It is important to make continued efforts to promote high-quality development of social security, maintain overall institutional integrity and standards, and develop a multi-tiered, multi-pillar old-age insurance system to put more people under our social safety net. We should refine the social security system for people in flexible employment, and expand the coverage of unemployment insurance, workers' compensation and maternity insurance, to ensure more equitable institutional arrangements, a full coverage, and a solid bedrock of the people's wellbeing. We should also improve the supervision system for social security funds, and crack down hard on all types of fraud, embezzlement, misappropriation and other illegal activities related to social insurance funds. Every cent of our people's retirement money and lifeline fund must be well-protected.
When it comes to the wellbeing of the public, there is no such thing as a trivial matter, Xi stressed. We must give extra attention and care to the people in difficulty, to help them resolve problems. We should further reform the social assistance system, and work for a comprehensive, effective, multi-tiered and multi-category social assistance framework centered on basic living assistance, special assistance and emergency assistance. The framework is also supplemented by non-government resources. Targeted measures will be adopted to meet specific features and requirements of people with extreme difficulties, all assistance payments will be made on time and in full, and temporary assistance will be strengthened, to ensure that the basic needs of all those in need are satisfied.
We should shore up weak links in social welfare in rural areas, and give particular attention and care to disadvantaged groups such as elderly people and children, especially elderly people, children, and women left behind in rural areas. We should also provide greater assistance and support to people hit hard by epidemic or natural disasters, ensure rehabilitation, education, and employment for people with disabilities, guarantee the safety and basic living needs of vagrants and beggars, ensure support and care for people with mental illness, and take resolute steps to stop mistreatment of women, children, elderly people and people with disabilities.
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