Leaders Reflect on China Changes in 30 Years

China has gone through tremendous growth industrially and agriculturally in the last 30 years. In the summer of 2018, farm broadcasters and friends visited and saw that first hand.

Michael Chang, a tour guide in Xi’an city, is one of many Chinese who have moved from rural villages. He says, "In the past 30 years, there is a trend for the Chinese, you know the young generation to move to the city, that what we call them as migrant workers."

There are nearly 280 million workers who moved from country to city in China. Chang says many younger people go to the city because of pay. The average Chinese farmer earns about 20,000 yuan a year, fewer than $3,000, the average city income is double that.

Chang’s parents still farm a quarter of an acre back home nearly 500 miles away. He says, "I helped them a lot in the farm I can understand how hard the life in the country side it is."

Since the 1980s, China has gone through a lot of change. Back then, rural infrastructure was lacking. Every region to the county level had to be self sufficient in food.

Bob Thompson, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois, says, "You have to remember, agriculture before 1980 was under the communist system of communes, work groups, and no private initiative at all. And agriculture just started to change in 1980. China had the fastest growth in productivity ever experienced in any country in the world ever during the decade of the 80s as they started providing price incentives."

Thompson has visited China many times in the last 30 years and has noticed growth over even the last three years. He says the country has had an overhaul in transportation modernization.

Former Secretary of Agriculture John Block was on the trip as well, he agrees China has made a lot of progress since he last visited in the 80s, but adds they are still limited by land, "With a billion, three hundred million people, and they have not enough arable acres really to feed their population, they're not going to do it unless something magic happens for them. So, they're going to be a good market for us and the rest of the world, anybody else. They are going to have to import food."

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