President Hu Jintao pledged yesterday to "respect farmers' wishes, safeguard their interests and enhance their welfare" while building a new socialist countryside.
He made the remarks during a speech to provincial and ministerial officials at a Central Party School seminar in Beijing.
"The Party and the nation as a whole must take a down-to-earth approach in the building of a new socialist countryside that will truly benefit farmers," said Hu, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China.
The target for a new socialist countryside characterized by increased agricultural productivity, a sound ecosystem and rising wealth was set at a central work conference on rural development in December.
Participants including Premier Wen Jiabao agreed on giving importance to the development of agriculture and rural areas in the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-10).
The conference stressed that the development of agriculture and rural areas is of great significance for China. "Only when the problems relating to agriculture, rural areas and farmers have been solved can China's economy develop in the right direction," it concluded.
During yesterday's speech, Hu noted that problems hindering the development of agriculture and rural areas such as slow growth in farmers' income and poor socio-economic conditions have not been solved
To build China into a generally well-off society and accelerate its modernization process, "the most arduous task rests in the countryside," he said, adding that it would take decades before a new socialist countryside turns into reality.
Solving problems concerning agriculture, the rural areas and farmers should be put at the top of the Party's agenda, Hu stressed.
He suggested that the nation "give more to, and take less from, the countryside," where more flexible policies could be adopted to boost its development.