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China Aims to Double Income of Farmers in 12 Years

China's ruling Communist Party says it hopes to double the income of Chinese farmers in 12 years through agricultural reforms.

The official Xinhua news agency says the Communist Party's central committee agreed on the rural reform plan Sunday at the end of a four-day meeting in Beijing.

The plan sets a target of doubling the per capita income of China's rural residents by the year 2020 from the current level of around $590. It also aims to boost spending by farmers and to eliminate rural poverty over that same period.

Xinhua says China's leadership hopes to achieve these goals by modernizing agriculture, increasing agricultural productivity, and developing public utilities in rural areas.

The ruling party's central committee also called for setting up a modern financial system in the countryside and improving the quality of agricultural products.

The Communist Party's rural reforms are designed to reduce a growing income gap between China's urban elite and the vast majority of rural poor.

China's leadership also expressed confidence Sunday in the country's economy as the global financial crisis unfolds.

In a statement carried by Xinhua, the ruling party's central committee said China's overall economy is growing quickly and its financial sector is operating steadily.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.