BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) — Once a researcher with China’s top academy of sciences, Wei Qiao is now known as a tech-savvy “new farmer” in her hometown in eastern province of Jiangsu, making contributions to rural revitalization with advanced ideas and modern entrepreneurial skills.
Wei is also a national lawmaker who is in Beijing for the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC), the national legislature. On Sunday, she got a chance to share with President Xi Jinping about her latest achievements as a farmer in the digital age.
“We have cultivated more than 20,000 mu (about 1,333 hectares) of rice, with each mu yielding 550 kg of grain,” Wei told Xi. She noted that by managing the fields with digital methods, work efficiency was greatly improved.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, commended Wei’s efforts. “20,000-plus mu is no small number in south China,” Xi said, adding that such an area is sufficient to unleash the potential of farm machinery and develop modern protected agriculture.
Their conversation took place when Xi attended a deliberation with his fellow deputies from the delegation of Jiangsu.
Xi is known to take the opportunity of the annual NPC session to communicate with national lawmakers coming from the grassroots level. He uses the meetings to listen to remarks and share his thoughts on multiple issues.
This year at the Jiangsu delegation’s deliberation, Xi directed the deputies’ attention to the issues of agriculture and food security. He called on Jiangsu to become a vanguard in promoting agricultural modernization and highlighted the province’s role in ensuring China’s food security.
To make his point clear, Xi related his own experience some three decades ago: “When I was working in Fujian Province, I checked every day whether or not the locals had enough vegetables to eat.”
“If not, it would become a political issue,” Xi added. He then warned against the tendency among some officials of neglecting the issue of food security. “This just won’t do.”
Xi’s remarks reflected Chinese leaders’ heightened attention to agriculture. For them, it is always a daunting and bottom-line task to feed 1.4 billion people.
The country’s central authorities have highlighted work on agriculture and rural areas in their annual “No. 1 central document” for 20 consecutive years since 2004.
A government work report being deliberated at the national legislature sets the grain output target for 2023 at over 650 million tonnes.
Xi’s itinerary also reflected his concern for agriculture and rural areas. After the 20th CPC National Congress concluded in last October, launching China on a new journey toward modernization, Xi made his first inspection trip to the countryside.
He visited an apple orchard in Shaanxi Province, chatted with locals, asked detailed questions about apple-growing techniques and learned about the development of the local apple industry.
“The most challenging and arduous tasks we face in building a modern socialist China in all respects remain in rural areas,” he said.
A few months later, ahead of the 2023 Chinese New Year, Xi extended holiday greetings via video to groups of people across the country. Among them were vendors and customers at a major fresh-produce marketplace in Beijing.
During the virtual talk, Xi stressed the importance of redoubling efforts to ensure the sound production, sales and supply of essential commodities such as grain, cooking oil, meat, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables.
On Sunday, during conversations with NPC deputies, Xi specifically noted that the redline of China’s total farmland area must not be breached.
Should the total farmland area fall below the redline, relevant officials will be held responsible, regardless of retired status, Xi said. “This is where the country’s most fundamental interests lie.”
“We have in place the system that provincial governors assume responsibility for the ‘rice bags’ and city mayors for the ‘vegetable baskets’,” Xi said. “The acreage and grain output can not be reduced anymore.”
Of all things, eating matters most, and food is the most basic necessity of people. Currently, agricultural workers like Wei are making efforts to secure more bumper harvests in China’s rural areas and facilitate rural revitalization. ■