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Rural Issue, Anti-corruption High on CPC Agenda

The battles to raise farmers' income and curb corruption were highlighted at a senior Party meeting held in Beijing on Tuesday.

At the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC) presided over by President Hu Jintao, participants discussed the policies to balance the development in urban and rural areas as well as to fight against corruption, said a statement issued after the meeting.

"The Party has always made the development of agriculture, farmers and rural areas a priority... but we must see that there are quite a few challenges," says the statement, noting that the foundation of agriculture remained weak and the gap between the urban and rural development kept growing.

The participants at the meeting agreed the government would invest more in agriculture and rural development projects and work out more policies to support and benefit agriculture, rural areas and farmers.

At the meeting, a number of policies on agriculture were announced, including more investment in infrastructure and irrigation facilities in rural areas, better conservation of farmland, more new agricultural technologies and support for industrialized farming.

Special efforts would be made to improve basic healthcare services in the countryside and include more villagers in the social insurance network, the statement says.

China has picked up a series of policies to benefit rural areas and agriculture and increase the farmers' income, including more investment from the central budget and fewer taxes.

In the first three quarters this year, the average cash income of a rural resident stood at 3,321 yuan (US$448), up 14.8 percent over the same period last year.

The meeting also stressed that the CPC will intensify its fight against corruption and give such work a "more prominent place" on its agenda.

The meeting urged China's Party discipline organs and government supervision departments to speed up their work on setting a new plan to improve the anti-corruption system between 2008 and 2012.

The plan was designed to collect new ideas and measures to prevent corruption and punish corrupt officials.

"Party committees at various levels must realize the perennial, complex and arduous nature of the anti-corruption fight, and implement the guidelines issued at the CPC's 17th National Congress," the statement says.

The CPC is to hold its annual conference on rural work but the date is yet to be set, and the second plenary session of the CPC's 17th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be held in January, according to the statement.

(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2007)

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