The development of the rural area is a key issue in China's national rejuvenation and long-term stability, said Premier Wen Jiabao in a speech released by the State Council Thursday.
Wen said the scheme to boost the construction of a new socialist countryside, a blueprint mapped out by the central authorities at the Fifth Plenum of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last October, is of great significance.
The government will work hard in the 2006-2010 period to improve living and production conditions in rural areas by substantially enlarging state financial coverage, he said.
The Premier said the Chinese government will deepen institutional reform at township level and financial reform at county and township levels in the five-year period.
Compulsory education will also be promoted as part of the reform in rural areas, he said.
Wen reminded that the abolition of agricultural taxes, which began this year, does not necessarily mean farmers' burdens are discharged once and for all.
"We must guard against the re-emergence of random charging of farmers under various pretexts," he said.
To maintain the balance between food supply and demand, the Premier said, the regulations on farmland protection must be strictly observed, and preferential policies must be implemented to inspire farmers' enthusiasm for growing grain.
Land management is a crucial problem in the reform and development of the countryside, which not only concerns rural development and stability but might also affect sustainable development of the country's overall industrialization and urbanization process, Wen said.
The Premier said that land acquisition for construction projects must be strictly controlled, and farmers' property rights must be respected.
Acknowledging that migrant workers from rural areas have become a major component of the country's industrial workforce, the Premier called for the improvement of their treatment, including pay, social security, vocational training opportunities and their children's education.
Public services in the countryside, including education, medical care and cultural services, have to be strengthened in the ensuing five years, Wen said.
Moreover, the Chinese premier urged governments at all levels to make rural issues the top priority on their work agendas.