Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday promised increased funding for rural development this year, marking the first step towards great changes in the countryside.
Addressing provincial and ministerial heads at a seminar on building a new socialist countryside, the premier said: "Building a new socialist countryside is a major historic mission in the process of the country's modernization."
He said China should always give priority to building a new countryside and promoting co-ordinated urban and rural development, which he described as long-term, arduous and complicated.
Wen vowed to boost the development of modern agriculture and the rural economy, giving priority to stabilizing grain production and increasing farmers' income in a sustained manner, while improving education, science and technology, health and grass-roots democracy.
He said building a new socialist countryside is not limited to merely constructing villages, although it does feature along with environmental improvement.
China will allocate more resources to rural areas, including more public spending and improved public services. It will shift the focus of State infrastructure construction to rural areas, he added.
This year, public spending should exceed that of last year, with the ratio of treasury bonds and budgetary spending on construction in rural areas compared to total spending should be higher than that of last year, said the premier.
Wen said increased spending on education, public health and culture should be used mainly in the countryside, while the urban areas should support rural development through various channels.