China’s Rural Reform: Journey, Experience and Outlook*

Wei Houkai (魏后凯)1,2 and Liu Changquan(刘长全)1
1 Rural Development Institute (RDI), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, China
2 School of Economics, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (UCASS)

Abstract: Since 1978, China’s rural reform has gone through four stages, including the re-establishment of the economic status of farmer households, the transition from planned to market-based resource allocation, the initial development of the new-type urban-rural relationship, and the deepening of reforms in all respects. Underpinned by the household contract responsibility system, China’s rural reform follows a gradualist and marketoriented approach that has progressed from encompassing a single domain to encompassing all fronts and from pilot programs to nationwide rollout with the core mandate of protecting farmers’ rights and interests and promoting their initiative in agricultural production. Such a gradualist reform is consistent with China’s national conditions and has incentivized farmers and integrated rural development, laying a solid institutional foundation for China’s rapid development. China’s four-decade experience suggests that reform and innovation are the primary drivers of rural development. During this period, China’s rural reform has developed extensive experience with significant achievements. In the future, China should take integrated measures to deepen rural reform in all respects, promote farmers’ and grassroots initiative, and unlock agricultural development potentials.

Keywords: rural reform, market-based approach, urban-rural relationship, agricultural and rural modernization

JEL Classification Codes: O18, P23
DOI:1 0.19602/j .chinaeconomist.2019.9.01

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