Promoting integrated urban-rural development in the new era is vital for advancing new-type urbanization with Chinese characteristics. It is also essential for solving unbalanced and inadequate urban-rural development and achieving high-quality economic growth.
The urban-rural dual structure has become a bottleneck restricting socialist modernization with Chinese characteristics, said Ye Chao, a professor from East China Normal University. Promoting urban-rural integration through the linkage of multiple systems is not only an important means to break the urban-rural dual structure, but also the goal of urban and rural development in the new era.
Long Hualou, a research fellow from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that integrated urban-rural development is a process of reshaping urban and rural values. It aims to break the barriers to urban and rural development and achieve the overall optimization of urban and rural regional functions through urban-rural interaction and complementarity.
Boosting urban-rural integration in the new era has multilayered significance, said Gao Fan, a professor from the School of Economics at Fudan University. Integrated urban-rural development means that the mobility of land, capital and other factors between urban and rural areas will increase, and the efficiency of factor allocation will also increase. This plays an important role in solving the problem of factor mismatch and in forming new development momentum in the country. In addition, the integrated development of urban and rural areas means that a new industrial system will be formed between urban and rural areas based on market demand and social division of labor.
Integrated urban-rural development means that urban and rural residents can obtain more opportunities to increase their income and have access to more equalized public goods, Gao continued. This is of great significance to alleviating the long-standing urban-rural dual structure and addressing the unbalanced and inadequate urban-rural development. Moreover, the integrated development of urban and rural areas means that the institutional mechanism that restricts urban and rural development can be responded to and effectively solved through the interaction of the market’s function of resource allocation and the government’s supply of public goods.
China’s urbanization rate exceeded 60% in 2019, said Duan Jinjun, a professor at Soochow University’s business school. In the new stage, it is necessary to break through the current situation of one-dimensional agglomeration of production factors in cities, channel the agglomeration of capital, labor, technology and other production factors into rural areas, and realize the common development of urban and rural areas. Rural functions are also constantly being transformed, and such new functions as ecology, leisure, tourism, education and culture that are unique to rural areas can be tapped to better meet the people’s ever-growing need for a better life. The unique new functions of the countryside are important for attracting the flow of factors of production from urban areas.
Chen Ruishan, a professor from the School of Geographic Sciences at East China Normal University, said that the unsmooth flow of urban and rural elements and the uncalculated allocation of public resources have always been prominent manifestations of the barriers between urban and rural areas.
A series of policies such as rural vitalization and urban-rural integration have promoted urban-rural integration, Chen said. However, at present, the mechanisms for the flow of certain factors have yet to be established, such as the citizenization of the migrant agricultural population, the entry of urban talent into the countryside, the entry of rural land into the market, the flow of industrial and commercial capital into rural areas, and the delivery of scientific and technological achievements to rural areas.
In addition, Chen said there is still a large gap between urban and rural areas in the quality and quantity of social security, basic education, medical care and health, and infrastructure, which hinders coordinated urban-rural development.
In terms of spatial element allocation and policy supply, it is necessary to fundamentally reverse the past value orientation of “prioritizing urban areas over rural areas,” said Yue Wenze, a professor from the School of Public Affairs at Zhejiang University.
Yue also suggested giving priority to complementing the weak links in infrastructure construction and public services in rural areas.
Duan said that infrastructure, including new infrastructure construction, should lean towards rural areas while gradually realizing equitable access to basic public services in both urban and rural areas.
In Ye’s view, the foundation of the integration of urban and rural areas lies in governance. At the practical level, it is necessary to explore and form a flexible, gradual, inclusive and multi-scale system to facilitate the free flow of factors of production between urban and rural areas.