Vice-Premier vows better life for rural people

Updated: 2012-01-18 07:26

By He Dan and Zhu Zhe (China Daily)

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Vice-Premier vows better living standards for people in rural areas

BEIJING - Ma Lingying had never imagined that her modest home in a remote village in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region would ever have such a distinguished guest.

But the surprises did not stop there. The guest, after seeing her badly repaired roof and basic sleeping arrangements, promised her and the villagers a better life.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang visited the town of Kaicheng in Guyuan city on Monday and Tuesday and told officials to work harder to help the poor.

Vice-Premier vows better life for rural people

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang enjoys a humorous moment on Monday during a visit to Guyuan, in Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region. Su Baowei / for China Daily 

He urged local governments to speed up the renovation of housing in the countryside, especially in poverty- stricken areas such as Guyuan.

The average annual income of farmers in poorer parts of Guyuan was 3,390 yuan ($537) in 2011, just half of the national per capita rural income of 6,977 yuan, according to official figures.

A meeting held in Beijing in November to map out efforts to alleviate poverty in rural areas over the next decade recommended certain basic requirements for people.

President Hu Jintao said at that meeting that people would be provided with adequate food and clothing and have access to education, basic medical services and housing by 2020.

Wang Xiaolin, director of the research division of the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, said it was important for the government to offer more subsidies and ensure that rural properties for the poor in Ningxia were built with durable construction materials.

"Due to the lack of rain in Ningxia and the underdeveloped irrigation system, farmers' incomes often fluctuate from year to year," Wang said.

To lift more farmers out of poverty the government should increase investment to improve infrastructure in rural areas, he said. The government should also provide more compensation for rural dwellers as they may have to give up arable land to plant trees to combat climate change, he said.

Wang also said the government should improve access to basic social services in rural areas, including free education and affordable healthcare as part of a long-term poverty reduction strategy.

During the visit, Li urged local governments to boost medical reform and ensure the quantity and quality of affordable housing in the city.

Housing, medical services and education are the basic needs of the people, and governments are duty-bound to meet such needs, Li said.

Li also visited a supermarket in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia. Price stability is important and food safety should be guaranteed, especially with Chinese New Year approaching, he said.