HAIKOU - China will need to take up tough reforms over the next few years to start bridging the urban-rural divide, readjusting income distribution, improving the social safety net and advancing basic public services.
All these constitute the main tasks to restructure the economy, transform the mode of growth and promote urban-rural integration, Peng Sen, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said during a keynote speech at an international forum here on Saturday.
More than 200 scholars from home and abroad gathered at the two-day forum to brainstorm the trends and challenges in urban-rural integration, which has been identified as the key to rural reforms in the coming 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).
China is drafting a comprehensive development plan for the five years, which is believed to be crucial not only for its sustainable growth but also for world economic development.
While participants shared experiences in their pilot projects to provide better public services to farmers and improve their quality of life, they also identified problems and malpractices in the name of "rural development" or "urban-rural integration".
Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the Central Rural Work Leading Group, said the practice of dismantling villages and taking rural land for urban development has hurt farmers' interests.
He said the government must enhance its control over land use in rural areas while preserving household-based agriculture management.
He warned that malpractices in forced land sales for urban development may cause potential disasters, as villages formed over the centuries are now disappearing and many rural residents have lost not only their land but their historical roots.