Awak­en­ing Sleep­ing Ru­ral As­sets: In­no­va­tive De­vel­op­ment of the Col­lec­tive Econ­omy in Kun­shan

In­no­va­tive De­vel­op­ment of the Col­lec­tive Econ­omy in Kun­shan

China Pictorial (English) - - Front Page - Text by Yan Jing and Tang Xu Pho­to­graphs cour­tesy of the Pub­lic­ity Depart­ment of Kun­shan Mu­nic­i­pal Party Com­mit­tee

The city of Kun­shan in Jiangsu Prov­ince in eastern China has ac­tively ex­plored strate­gies to awaken sleep­ing ru­ral as­sets and raise col­lec­tive eco­nomic or­ga­ni­za­tions to the same level as other mar­ket en­ti­ties.

In­vig­o­rat­ing idle as­sets and col­lec­tive prop­erty rights in ru­ral ar­eas is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of China’s ru­ral vi­tal­iza­tion strat­egy. Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, also gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, pointed out in his re­port to the 19th CPC Na­tional Congress that China “will press ahead with re­form of the ru­ral col­lec­tive prop­erty rights sys­tem, safe­guard the prop­erty rights and in­ter­ests of ru­ral peo­ple, and strengthen the col­lec­tive econ­omy.” Meth­ods to awaken sleep­ing ru­ral as­sets and give equal sta­tus to col­lec­tive eco­nomic or­ga­ni­za­tions with other mar­ket en­ti­ties are be­ing ex­plored in re­gions across the coun­try.

In re­cent years, the city of Kun­shan in eastern China’s Jiangsu Prov­ince has made un­remit­ting ef­forts to pro­mote new ru­ral col­lec­tive eco­nomic re­form, re­vi­tal­ize ru­ral col­lec­tive as­sets through mar­ket-ori­ented means and in­no­vate the mech­a­nism for col­lec­tive as­sets op­er­a­tion and pro­tec­tion. By do­ing so, it has in­jected new mo­men­tum and vi­tal­ity into agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion. By for­mu­lat­ing and im­ple­ment­ing tar­geted poli­cies, Kun­shan has en­abled lo­cal farm­ers to en­joy greater ben­e­fits from the en­tire in­dus­trial chain through ru­ral col­lec­tive eco­nomic re­form. Changyun Vil­lage: De­vel­op­ing Mod­ern Farms

“Take a look at the agri­cul­tural fields un­der my man­age­ment,” grins Yu Ji­aming. “Each kilo­gram of rice we pro­duce can be sold for 40 yuan.” A con­tracted pro­fes­sional farmer in Changyun Vil­lage, Kun­shan’s Jinxi Town, Yu man­ages 20 hectares of paddy fields.

Changyun Vil­lage has 40 con­tracted farm­ers like Yu. They are nick­named “Rice CEOS.” Ac­cord­ing to con­tracts, the out­put of the paddy fields they man­age must ex­ceed 300 kilo­grams per mu (0.067 hectares), and con­tracted farm­ers are el­i­gi­ble for bonuses of 10 per­cent of the value of rice above the pro­duc­tion quota. This method con­tracts farm­land to pro­fes­sional farm­ers who have ad­van­ta­geous ex­per­tise and en­thu­si­asm for farm­ing.

“You wouldn’t see so many well-cul­ti­vated rice fields here a few years ago,” as­serts Yu.

Back then, lo­cal farm­ers of­ten con­verted their farm­land into ponds to farm fish and shrimp be­cause they were more prof­itable.

In 2012, Changyun Vil­lage de­cided to form a land stock co­op­er­a­tive adopt­ing mar­ket-ori­ented col­lec­tive eco­nomic op­er­a­tion mech­a­nism. Vil­lagers joined the co­op­er­a­tive by restor­ing fish ponds to farm­land. By do­ing so, the vil­lage’s paddy fields were bumped up to more than 2,000

mu. The vil­lage also es­tab­lished a mod­ern col­lec­tive farm fea­tur­ing in­te­grated rice sow­ing and har­vest­ing and con­tracted it to pro­fes­sional farm­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to Yu Quanyuan, di­rec­tor of the Eco­nomic Ser­vice Cen­ter of Jinxi Town, vil­lagers col­lect rental pay­ments and div­i­dends from the col­lec­tive farm. From 2012 to 2016, per capita an­nual in­come of lo­cal vil­lagers in­creased from 21,000 yuan (US$3,260) to 31,000 yuan (US$4,820), and pro­fes­sional farm­ers’ an­nual salaries rose from an av­er­age of 40,000 (US$6,220) to 50,000 yuan (US$7,770).

Zhangpu Town: Build­ing In­dus­trial Parks

Mr. Wang, a na­tive of Kun­shan’s Zhangpu Town, rides an elec­tric bi­cy­cle to his work­place at the Kun­shan Ger­man In­dus­trial Park ev­ery work day. “Many na­tives used to work out­side as mi­grant work­ers in the past,” he re­calls. “Since the in­dus­trial park was com­pleted, many re­turned to find jobs here so that they can live to­gether with their fam­i­lies.”

Pre­vi­ously, small fac­to­ries and work­shops could be found in al­most ev­ery vil­lage of Zhangpu Town. As in­creas­ing num­bers of vil­lagers left to work in cities,

many of those fac­to­ries and work­shops closed. In 2012, the govern­ment of Zhangpu Town de­cided to re­or­ga­nize sur­viv­ing vil­lage fac­to­ries into Kun­shan Lepu Qiang­cun In­vest­ment and De­vel­op­ment Co., Ltd., with the pur­pose of re­vi­tal­iz­ing idle as­sets of the 20 vil­lages un­der its ju­ris­dic­tion.

“The 20 vil­lages took stakes in the com­pany with their funds and as­sets, and vil­lagers be­came share­hold­ers,” ex­plains Gen­eral Man­ager Fan Qing­min. Each year, those vil­lagers can earn div­i­dends of about 10 per­cent of their in­vest­ment amounts. Since its in­cep­tion, the com­pany has in­te­grated agri­cul­ture, in­dus­try and real es­tate and pro­moted in­dus­tri­al­ized an­i­mal hus­bandry, not only re­vi­tal­iz­ing idle funds and as­sets held by vil­lages but also in­creas­ing res­i­dents’ in­comes and im­prov­ing the em­ploy­ment rate.

Quan­tifi­ca­tion of col­lec­tive as­sets is a new strat­egy taken by Kun­shan to pro­mote ru­ral prop­erty rights re­form in re­cent years. A vil­lage’s as­sets, in­clud­ing land, fac­to­ries and other fixed as­sets, are ap­praised and then trans­ferred to shares, en­abling ev­ery vil­lager to be­come a share­holder. In 2016, Yang Shuim­ing, a na­tive of Jin­hua Vil­lage, Zhangpu Town, and his fam­ily earned div­i­dends to­tal­ing 13,000 yuan (US$2,060) from the com­mu­nity where they live. “As a share­holder, I take more ini­tia­tive at work,” Yang says. Zhu­dian Vil­lage: Dis­tinc­tive Ru­ral Tourism

How can we em­power small agro­tourism busi­nesses to achieve cap­i­tal ap­pre­ci­a­tion by mak­ing ru­ral col­lec­tive eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

an op­por­tu­nity? Kun­shan has en­cour­aged vil­lages where con­di­tions per­mit to de­velop ru­ral tourism to­gether, blaz­ing a new trail for them to re­vi­tal­ize col­lec­tive as­sets.

Many vil­lages in Kun­shan boast tra­di­tional res­i­dences with white walls and black-tiled roofs. Such res­i­dences look beau­ti­ful, but still don’t gen­er­ate strong at­trac­tion for tourists be­cause they are so com­mon in the re­gion. Mak­ing the dwellings dis­tinc­tive and spe­cial has be­come the goal of many Kun­shan vil­lages hop­ing to de­velop ru­ral tourism.

Zhu­dian Vil­lage in south­west­ern Jinxi Town has pre­served the site of some an­cient kilns. Lo­cal vil­lagers re­stored the dis­used brick and tile kilns to cre­ate the Zhu­dian Kiln Cul­ture Mu­seum, com­plete with hands-on pro­duc­tion, themed classes, and even a ho­tel. The dis­tinc­tive mu­seum is set off by myr­iad other nat­u­ral land­scapes in Jinxi Town.

By con­vert­ing old kilns into profit-mak­ing col­lec­tive as­sets, Zhu­dian set a good ex­am­ple for Kun­shan to re­vi­tal­ize ru­ral col­lec­tive as­sets. “Kiln tourism pools the power of for­merly sparse agro­tourism busi­nesses, not only ex­pand­ing the in­dus­trial chain but also help­ing farm­ers in­crease their in­comes,” notes Zhu Yan­lei from the Pub­lic­ity Di­vi­sion of Jinxi Town.

The suc­cess of the Zhu­dian Kiln Cul­ture Mu­seum has worked like a shot of adren­a­line for Zhu­dian Vil­lage and at the same time con­sol­i­dated Kun­shan’s con­fi­dence in de­vel­op­ing col­lec­tive ru­ral tourism. “The new col­lec­tive econ­omy is char­ac­ter­ized by ex­plicit bound­aries be­tween var­i­ous par­tic­i­pants and clearly de­fined col­lec­tive prop­erty rights, which help fos­ter win-win re­sults,” il­lus­trates Chen Luy­ong, head of Kun­shan Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of Ru­ral Af­fairs. To fur­ther deepen ru­ral re­form and en­sure more farm­ers ben­e­fit from de­vel­op­ment achieve­ments, Kun­shan is com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing dif­fer­ent mea­sures of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­forms in all vil­lages un­der its ju­ris­dic­tion to tap greater ru­ral col­lec­tive as­sets.

Zhu­dian Vil­lage in Jinxi Town of Kun­shan City, Jiangsu Prov­ince has pre­served the site of some an­cient kilns. Lo­cal vil­lagers re­stored the dis­used brick and tile kilns to cre­ate the Zhu­dian Kiln Cul­ture Mu­seum, com­plete with hands-on pro­duc­tion, themed...

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