AP: China’s rural poverty is now a state priority

From AP, via The New York Times:

The agriculture minister on Thursday promised to protect farmers’ land rights and spend more on irrigation as China’s Communist leaders seek to ease chronic rural , seen as posing their biggest risk of anti-government unrest.

China’s grain harvest last year rose by a record 9 percent, but farmers suffer from poor infrastructure and other problems, said Agriculture Minister Du Qinglin.

“There is still a long way for us to go, and an arduous task for us to shoulder,” Du said at a news conference held during the annual meeting of China’s legislature.

Chinese leaders regard chronic poverty in the vast countryside, home to some 800 million people, as their most pressing problem and worry that rising anger over the problem could lead to political instability.

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