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State Council Issues Guidelines on Improving Human Settlements in Rural Areas
On May 16, the State Council issued Guidelines on Improving Human Settlements in Rural Areas (hereinafter referred to as Guidelines). It sets targets to improve the basic conditions of rural housing, drinking water, and transportation, realize clean, tidy, and convenient human settlements, and build a number of distinctive livable villages by 2020.

The Guidelines point out that human settlements in rural areas fall far behind the standard of a well-off society regarding living conditions, public facilities, sanitation, and so on. Efforts should be made to comprehensively improve working and living conditions in rural areas in accordance with the general requirement for building a well-off society and a new socialist countryside, the bottom line is to safeguard farmers’ basic living conditions, the key point is to improve village environment, and the aim is to build livable villages.

The Guidelines confirm basic principles, such as to take actions suiting local conditions, to give different guidance to different categories, and to do everything within the areas’ capacity, and to advance in due order. It points out that different areas should identify their specific development objectives, focal points, methods, and standards according to the economic and social development, avoiding blind imitation and rigid uniformity, large-scale reconstruction, felling trees, digging mountains, filling lakes, and demolishing houses.

The Guidelines propose the following three tasks. The first is to draw up a plan in advance, giving different guidance in line with issues concerning rural settlement renovation. The second is to highlight key points, gradually improving human settlements in rural areas. The third is to perfect mechanisms for continuously improving human settlements in rural areas.The Guidelines stress the establishment of the statistics and evaluation mechanisms for human settlements in rural areas. Provincial governments should act responsibly to improve human settlements in rural areas, and timely report plans and annual work to relevant departments for recording and accept supervision and inspection.  

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