By Su Hongwen, Jiao Xudong & Liu Zheng
Research Report Vol.20 No.1, 2018
The rural issue is a major weakness in China’s economic and social development today. As urbanization picks up speed, a lot of rural adults in their prime go to work in large cities, which gives birth to a series of social problems, such as loss of talents from rural areas, idleness of rural resources, and left-behind elders, women and children. These problems have seriously impeded economic and social development in rural areas.
The report delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress expressly put forth the “Rural Revitalization Strategy”, which is a new major strategy launched after the socialist new countryside to address the issue of agriculture, farmers and rural areas, and a substantial measure to tackle that issue in an integrated way. The core of rural revitalization is to help the farmers live an affluent life and make the rural ecology hospitable. Encouraging migrant workers’ return to their hometown for driving rural industries through entrepreneurship and innovation is an effective way of implementing the Rural Revitalization Strategy.
I. Migrant Workers Have an Important Role to Play in the Rural Revitalization Drive
To implement the Rural Revitalization Strategy, we need talents familiar with the countryside, but as a lot of rural laborers work away from home, hollowing out of the countryside is a serious problem, and the women, elders and children left behind are unable to develop the countryside and implement the strategy. Therefore, the lack of talent is the biggest obstacle to rural revitalization. To implement this strategy, “people” is the key factor, and migrant workers returning to their hometown have an important role to play in the rural revitalization drive.
In recent years, migrant workers that return to their hometown have become the main force for building a new countryside, valuable assets for developing and prospering their hometown, and the new drive for alleviating poverty through rural industrial development. Strongly supporting their decision to return home and start up business and fully exerting their rich working experience to help their hometown prosper is an effective way of implementing the Rural Revitalization Strategy, building the socialist new countryside, and building a beautiful hometown. It is also a critical and valid measure to implement the requirement made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council for targeted poverty alleviation and building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The key to implementing the Rural Revitalization Strategy lies in people and in whether there is a large group of high-caliber farmers who know how to start business and make innovations. With the rapid progress on science and technology, the construction of smart cities and the development of intelligent manufacturing and service, migrant workers who work in traditional manufacturing and service industry in the city are gradually losing their jobs. In the meantime, the Rural Revitalization Strategy urgently needs migrant workers who have studied, gained experience and obtained the ability of scientific and technological innovation and cultural creativity in the city to go back home and start up business and make innovations there as it is an effective way of implementing the strategy.
Migrant workers are an important force for pushing the national modernization drive and have made tremendous contributions to economic and social development. The agricultural and rural development in recent years fully proves that migrant workers returning to their hometown to start business and make innovations can give a strong impetus to the structural adjustment of rural industries and to the green shift in rural production mode and lifestyle. It also spreads modern civilization, fosters cultural development in rural areas, promotes democratic rural management, and accelerates rural modernization. To implement the Rural Revitalization Strategy, we should encourage more migrant workers, old and young, who are well versed in agriculture, love the countryside, and dare to make innovations and start business to go back home, be a strong force for revitalizing the countryside, and inject new momentum into the implementation of the strategy.
As it is noted in the report delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress, as socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, the principalcontradiction facing Chinese society today is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life. For the vast rural areas, the unbalanced and inadequate development is mainly reflected in the fact that “agriculture is not strong, farmers are not well-off, and the countryside is not beautiful”. According to the report, we will provide extensive public employment services to open more channels for college graduates and other young people as well as migrant rural workers to find jobs and start their own businesses. By strengthening skill training and issuing supportive policies, we will encourage some excellent migrant workers, college graduates from the countryside and technological personnel who grow up in the city to all go to the vast rural areas to start business and make innovations. Their skills and their understanding of local resources will help further strengthen the rural economy, develop modern agriculture and rural recreation, tourism and old age care industries at a high starting point, promote poverty alleviation through industrial development, and achieve rural revitalization.
II. Practices to Involve Migrant Workers in the Rural Revitalization Drive
To encourage and support migrant workers to go back home and start their own business, the State Council has issued a series of policy documents, including the Opinions on Supporting Migrant Workers to Start Business in Hometown and Opinions on Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation by Returning Migrant Workers and Technical Personnel Going to the Countryside and Promoting the Integrated Development of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Industries in Rural Areas. Provinces of massive labor service export, such as Guizhou, Jiangxi, Gansu, Shaanxi and Anhui, all introduced effective practices to support returning migrant workers’ entrepreneurship and innovation and assist in rural revitalization based on their actual conditions.
1. Introducing good policies
Policy support is a key measure to drive the returning migrant workers to start business and make innovations. Zunyi is a large labor-service-exporting city in Guizhou and in the country, and Huichuan district is a downtown district of Zunyi, where about 120,000 people work away from home and about 40,000 have come back, including 25,000 that have started their own business. Seizing the opportunity of the nation's support for migrant workers to start business athome and the Rural Revitalization Strategy, Huichuan has promoted this work across the board. In 2016 it was designated as the national pilot district for migrant workers starting business at home, and in 2017 it was designated as the national demonstration base for mass entrepreneurship and innovation. Based on its actual conditions, Huichuan District put forth 18 supportive policies regarding industrial support, factor guarantee and public service, including the Opinions on Promoting Entrepreneurship by Returning Migrant Workers, with a view to creating favorable conditions for them. The Implementing Rules of Huichuan District on Micro Loan, for instance, effectively solved the financing difficulty for SMEs. The district coordinated to secure RMB96.4 million loans for 561 SMEs in 2016.
2. Building good platforms
A sound service platform can provide strong support for returning migrant workers to start their own business. In view of its characteristics as a large labor-service-exporting province and the urgent demand of local migrant workers to come home and start business, Gansu developed a labor big data platform integrating the five functions of recruitment, training, import and transfer, right protection, and return and entrepreneurship. It set up the “400 free service hotline” that is connected with the migrant workers' WeChat account and cellphone number, so that they can receive free information service about job opportunities, business startup, marketing, production and life. Huichuan District of Zunyi set up a range of platforms covering business startup service, education and training, financing guarantee, park construction and information exchange to strongly support the entrepreneurship and innovation by returning migrant workers. It successfully hosted the 2016 Return Migrant Workers’ Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Development Forum and the 2017 China Returning Migrant Workers’ Entrepreneurship & Innovation Boost Rural Revitalization and Development Conference, achieved a series of research results, and set up the platform of policy communication for the entrepreneurship by returning migrant workers. Based on these efforts, Huichuan District provided training for 6,726 returning migrant workers in 2016, over 92% of whom found jobs, and about 100 have successfully started their own business in the industrial park.
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