BEIJING, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- At recent press conferences on the novel coronavirus outbreak, one of the most frequently asked questions is whether China has sufficient daily necessities to sustain its battle against the epidemic.
The "No. 1 central document" released Wednesday offered an answer to that question. China prioritized policy support and key tasks regarding the development of agriculture and rural areas in the document, shedding light on the country's determination to rise above difficulties caused by the novel coronavirus that had infected more than 31,000 people on the Chinese mainland as of Thursday.
The prime policy paper called agriculture, rural areas and rural people "the ballast stone" of economic development. As the new policies are expected to be one of the determinants of both high-stake damage control and post-epidemic recovery, the annual policy paper's significance is even greater this year.
Analysts scrutinized the document to find China's pledges to ensure supplies of important agricultural products, maintain the stability of grain output, and support the production of dairy and poultry products amid the ongoing battle.
The epidemic has posed great challenges to ensuring the supply of daily necessities due to the shortage of agricultural personnel and products. "The document sent a clear signal of down-to-earth preparations for spring plowing, smooth transportation and resuming production as soon as possible, which are important to the virus battle and economic growth," said Zhang Hongyu, a researcher with the China Institute for Rural Studies at Tsinghua University.
Actions have gathered momentum before the document's release. While containing the outbreak of the epidemic, local authorities have supported feed plants, slaughterhouses and animal product processors, while ripe vegetables are harvested and promptly delivered to retailers to ensure ample supplies, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Noting the outbreaks of H5N6 bird flu and African swine fever have affected the supply of agricultural products, the document vowed to keep the impact of animal diseases under control and restore hog production capacity to normal levels by the end of 2020.
In highlighting the No. 1 central document's significance, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua called for measures to guarantee agricultural production as the farming season starts, and also underlined efforts on coronavirus control in rural areas.
To promote the healthy development of the farming industry, Hu stressed the need to restore hog production, strengthen the control and prevention of animal diseases and respond promptly to new outbreaks to curb their spread.
The novel coronavirus to some extent exposed rural weak links in terms of the urban and rural gap in medical capabilities as well as the public awareness of disease prevention, said Zhang.
Addressing issues in medical and health services, the document outlined steps to promote the building of standardized health centers in villages and towns, upgrade village clinics and strengthen primary-level medical teams to improve disease prevention and control.
The policy paper also urged efforts on poverty alleviation as the country strives to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The rural regions are the central battlefield in the country's fight against poverty, and rural development is also key to the country winning the battle this year.
As part of its efforts, China will increase support for areas in deep poverty by adding poverty alleviation funds and provide institutional guarantees to prevent people from falling back into poverty.
Releasing the No. 1 central document at this time clearly shows the epidemic will only have a temporary impact on China's development, and the government's determination to win the battle against poverty on time will not change, said Zhong Yu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
Taking the coronavirus battle as a critical juncture, the country is beefing up efforts to improve the living environment in rural areas and the construction of the public health system while ensuring stable grain output and focusing on the three main issues related to rural work.
"With a slew of proactive measures and solid policy implementation in all industries, I am confident that China can defeat the novel coronavirus epidemic and build a moderately prosperous society in all respects as scheduled," said Zhang Hongyu.