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[Opinion] China’s Rural Movement

Posted February. 23, 2006 03:07,   


Xibaipo in China’s Hubei Province, located 200 kilometers southwest of Beijing, is one of China’s most hallowed revolutionary sites.

Mao Zedong completed his plan to establish the People’s Republic of China after expelling Kuomintang forces here in 1949. At the 2004 Chinese New Year’s festivities, Chinese President Hu Jintao said at a farmhouse in Xibaipo, “Socialism is what allows farmers to eat stuffed dumplings in boiled water on New Year’s Day.”

At the time, Hu suggested China should establish a new rural community at the place where Mao Zedong pledged never to be satisfied, despite the defeat of the Kuomintang.

While Mao is acknowledged as a revolutionary hero, second-generation leader Deng Xiaoping is known as the hero of China’s economic reform. Third-generation leader Jiang Zemin accomplished economic development by continuing Deng’s reforms. Now, Hu, who became China’s fourth-generation leader in 2003, is pursuing a “harmonious society.”

Deng and Jiang emphasized becoming rich first; Hu Jintao emphasizes becoming rich together.

Hu’s obsession with farming villages has something to do with the political stability of the fourth-generation leadership. Not long ago, a Chinese newspaper said that the nation’s rural problem had already reached the danger point, meaning that China can’t establish a harmonious society unless it solves its rural poverty issues. That is why China’s communist party adopted the establishment of new rural communities as its primary official policy for the third year in a row in 2006. The implication is when farmers are rich, society is stable and a country is prosperous.

A forum on the movement for new socialist rural areas was held at the Communist Party School in Beijing February 14-20. The forum reportedly recommended the application of Korea’s new village movement, implemented in the 1970s, to China’s rural areas. The Chinese media reported that Hu repeatedly stressed wealth in life when he wrapped up the one-week discussion.

This is exactly what Korea did 30 years ago to make people rich. The movement that established new farm villages in Korea is now reviving in China.

Song Dae-keun, Editorial Writer, dksong@donga.com