China creates farmers' festival in push for revitalization of villages

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China has designed an exclusive festival for farmers to celebrate harvests, which will fall on the autumn equinox of the Chinese lunar calendar, in demonstration of the great importance the Communist Party of China attaches to farmers.

The Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival will debut this year, falling on September 23, a day before the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, which gives an opportunity for Chinese people to have a family reunification.

The creation of the Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival, the first state-level festival for farmers, whose population accounts for an overwhelming part of the country's total, is of historic significance as it "reflects the high priority the CPC Central Committee with comrade Xi Jinping at the core places on agriculture, villages and farmers", Han Changfu, minister of agriculture, told a press conference.

Since he took power in 2012, Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has repeatedly stressed the importance of never forgetting farmers, whom he described as a key force playing a big role in the country's revolutions, constructions and reforms.

The timing of the creation of the festival is subtle. Coincidentally, the year 2018 marks the beginning of the implementation of the village revitalization strategy, which was put forward by Xi in his report delivered to the 19th National Congress of the CPC, which was held in October last year.

Focusing on increasing the benefits that farmers can gain from the process of China's industrial upgrading, the village revitalization strategy sets a three-step blueprint, according to which the support policies will be put in place by 2020, agricultural modernization will be basically achieved by 2035 and the revitalization of the rural regions will become a reality by 2050.

Han said that the festival would help activate famers' positivity and creativity, which are needed in the government's efforts to get rid of poverty and build China into a moderately prosperous nation by 2020.

Since 2012, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the country's cabinet, have rolled out a series of favorable policies for agriculture and farmers, contributing to the realization of the annual grain production of 600 million metric tons for five consecutive years.

Except for the government's support, the creation of the Chinese Famers' Harvest Festival is largely the result of the proposals submitted by more than 40 members of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, during last year's annual parliamentary meeting. These NPC members said at the time that it was necessary to create a festival for farmers as the time and conditions were mature, regardless of a regulation introduced in 2001, which banned the local governments from creating useless festivals that are not related to the people's vital interests and the country's reforms.

In a commentary, the government-backed Farmers' Daily, despite hailing the decision to create the festival as an "inspiring" policy for farmers, pointed out that the villages in some regions are "facing death with the acceleration of urbanization", which has led to the exodus of people in the rural areas.

Decades of reform and opening up and the acceleration of urbanization in the recent years have undermined the interests of famers. These policies have also resulted in imbalanced regional development, with the coastal cities remaining attractive to workers and talents while the remote rural areas being left behind.

Liu Deqian, a professor at the Tourism College of Beijing Union University, said that the creation of the Chinese Farmers' Harvest Festival should be the beginning of the government's efforts to find a scientific way to bring wealth to the farmers in the impoverished regions.


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