Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (6): 1408-1421.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202106007

• Rural Development and Settlement Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The process of rural development and paths for rural revitalization in China

GUO Yuanzhi1(), LIU Yansui1,2()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
  • Received:2020-07-09 Revised:2021-04-19 Online:2021-06-25 Published:2021-08-25
  • Contact: LIU Yansui;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41931293);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42001203);Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences(XDA23070300)


China is a large agricultural country, and issues concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers are closely related to national economic and social development. To achieve the "Two Centenary Goals", rural revitalization strategy has become the choice to resolve unbalanced urban-rural development and inadequate rural development in China. Rural development is a comprehensive process of cycle accumulation and dynamic evolution of rural regional system. Thus, it is of great significance to systematically analyze the process and regional pattern of rural development to scientifically promote the implementation of rural revitalization strategy in the new era. Based on the theory of human-earth areal system and human-earth system science, this study examines the process and features of rural development in China from 1978 to 2050, discusses the internal relationship between rural transformation and rural revitalization, reveals the spatial pattern of the level of county rural revitalization in 2017, and finally puts forward the key problems and countermeasures for rural revitalization in the new era. Results show that the evolution of China's rural development in the period of 1978-2050 can be divided into three stages, i.e. solving the problem of food and clothing (1978-2005), building a well-off society (2005-2020) and realizing prosperity (2020-2050). In general, it is a dynamic and continuous process from low-level and basic-type to high-quality and innovation-type. Rural revitalization is a special stage of rural transformation, and a strategic choice to solve the prominent problem in rural development when it has evolved to a certain stage, thus boosting rural development to a higher stage. In 2017, when rural revitalization strategy was initiated, the level of rural revitalization in 57.3% of the counties in China was between 0.40 and 0.50, and there was an obvious gradient differentiation from the east to the west, with significant clustering characteristics and positive correlation. Specifically, the counties featured by "high-high (H-H)" clustering were mainly distributed in the third step of the terrain and the middle of Sichuan Basin; while the counties featured by "low-low (L-L)" clustering were concentrated in western China except Sichuan Basin, the eastern part of Inner Mongolia and the north of Tianshan Mountains. Due to the regionalism, stage and the difference in constraints of rural development, the focuses of rural revitalization in the new era lie in scientifically identifying the targeting areas of rural revitalization, comprehensively judging the trends of rural development, and systematically diagnosing the dominant constraints of different types of rural areas, so as to take targeted measures to make up for the shortcomings of the modernization of agriculture and rural areas. Besides, it is necessary to fully understand the interactions between urban and rural areas, thus promoting urban-rural integrated development.

Key words: process of rural development, rural regional system, human-earth system science, path for rural revitalization, rural geography