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Xi stresses ensuring key agricultural products supply, building stronger social security network******
Chinese President Xi Jinping， also general secretary of the Communist Party of China （CPC） Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission， visits national political advisors from the sectors of agriculture and welfare and social security， who are attending the fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People‘s Political Consultative Conference （CPPCC）， in Beijing， capital of China， March 6， 2022。 （Xinhua/Ju Peng）
BEIJING， March 6 （Xinhua） -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday stressed putting the improvement of comprehensive agricultural production capacity at a more prominent position， and continuing efforts on promoting the high-quality development of social security。
Xi， also general secretary of the Communist Party of China （CPC） Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission， made the remarks when visiting national political advisors from the sectors of agriculture and welfare and social security， who are attending the fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People‘s Political Consultative Conference （CPPCC）。
Xi participated in their joint group meeting， and listened to their comments and suggestions。
He underlined ensuring the supply of key agricultural products， especially grain， as the top priority in rural revitalization。
On behalf of the CPC Central Committee， Xi extended festive greetings and best wishes to the country‘s women of all ethnic groups and from all walks of life ahead of the International Women’s Day。
Wang Yang， a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the CPPCC National Committee， joined the visit and discussion。
CHINA‘S STRATEGIC ADVANTAGES
Over the past year， various undertakings of the Party and the country have recorded new and major achievements， which are the result of the hard work of all Chinese。 Political advisors have also made their contributions， Xi said。
The international situation is going through profound and complex changes and the world has entered a new period of turbulence， Xi said， adding that China faces arduous tasks of reform， development and stability domestically。
Still， China boasts multiple strategic advantages， including the strong leadership of the CPC， the institutional strength of socialism with Chinese characteristics， and a solid foundation accumulated in the country‘s sustained and rapid development， Xi said。
Thanks to China‘s large economic aggregate and huge domestic market， the long-term sound economic fundamentals will remain unchanged， he said， adding that the economy has strong resilience and vitality。
Xi also noted the long-term stability of the Chinese society and the confidence and resolve of the Chinese people to overcome difficulties。
“CHINESE RICE BOWL”
China has fed nearly one-fifth of the world population with 9 percent of the world‘s arable land and 6 percent of fresh water resources， Xi said， hailing this hard-won accomplishment while warning against a lapse of attention on the issue of food security。
It is wrong to think that food supply is no longer a problem in an industrialized society， or to count on the global market to solve the issue， he added。
Xi underscored keeping the annual grain output at over 650 million tonnes and “filling the rice bowl of Chinese people mainly with Chinese grain。”
Xi said curbing food waste is a long-term task that requires unremitting efforts。
Calling farmland the foundation of ensuring sustainable development for the Chinese nation， Xi underscored cultivating 1 billion mu （about 66.67 million hectares） of high-standard farmland and ensuring the area of farmland remains above 120 million hectares。
The ultimate solution to safeguarding food security lies in enhancing science and technology， Xi said。
Germplasm resources security is closely related to national security， Xi said， adding that China must strengthen its seed industry to achieve self-reliance in the sci-tech development of the sector and keep the country‘s germplasm resources independent and controllable。
He stressed ensuring the effective supply of meat， vegetables， fruits and aquatic products and other kinds of food in addition to grain。
Efforts should be made to develop bio-technology and bio-industry， actively promote the agricultural supply-side structural reform and develop various food varieties， according to Xi。
CARING FOR THE VULNERABLE
Xi said rural revitalization involves more than economic development， urging ethical and moral education among farmers and law-based governance。 He demanded continuous efforts to crack down on criminal gangs or clans in rural areas， calling for mechanisms to conduct such work on a regular basis。
Pornography， gambling and drug-related crime in rural areas， as well as illegal and criminal acts infringing upon the rights and interests of women and children should be punished， Xi said。
Noting that China has built the world‘s largest social security network， Xi called for efforts to develop a multi-tiered and multi-pillar old-age pension system to bring more people into the social security system。
He also called for a better social security system for workers in flexible employment， highlighting efforts to expand the coverage of unemployment insurance， work-related injury insurance and maternity insurance。
Extra attention and care should be given to vulnerable groups， Xi said， adding that the elderly and children in rural areas should be given more support。
Better work should be done in terms of the rehabilitation， education and employment of people with disabilities， Xi said， demanding efforts to ensure the personal safety and basic living necessities of vagrants and beggars， and support and care for people with mental disorders。
Illegal acts of bullying or abusing women， children， the elderly and the disabled must be rooted out， Xi said。 ■
Chinese President Xi Jinping， also general secretary of the Communist Party of China （CPC） Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission， visits national political advisors from the sectors of agriculture and welfare and social security， who are attending the fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People‘s Political Consultative Conference （CPPCC）， in Beijing， capital of China， March 6， 2022。 （Xinhua/Huang Jingwen）
Chinese President Xi Jinping， also general secretary of the Communist Party of China （CPC） Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission， visits national political advisors from the sectors of agriculture and welfare and social security， who are attending the fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People‘s Political Consultative Conference （CPPCC）， in Beijing， capital of China， March 6， 2022。 （Xinhua/Wang Ye）
Australia to reopen its borders to tourists******
Australia will reopen its borders to tourists from February 21, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday, ending some of the world's strictest and longest-running pandemic travel restrictions.
"It's almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia," Morrison said after a meeting of the national security Cabinet.
He announced the borders will reopen to all visa holders "on the 21st of February of this year," adding, "if you're double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia."
Australia's borders slammed shut in March 2020 in the hope of protecting the island continent against a surging global pandemic.
For most of the time since then, Australians have been barred from leaving and only a handful of visitors have been granted exemptions to enter.
The rules have stranded nationals overseas, split families, hammered the country's multi-billion-dollar tourist industry, and prompted often bitter debates about Australia's status as a modern, open and outward-looking nation.
Every month of border closures has cost businesses an estimated US$2.6 billion, according to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In recent months, rules have been gradually relaxed for Australians, long-term residents and students.
The latest decision will see almost all remaining caps lifted.
It comes after the country's long-standing "COVID-zero" policy was abandoned, vaccination rates rose and the once stellar track-and-trace system collapsed under a wave of Omicron cases.
Only a handful of countries remain closed to tourists – among them Japan, China, New Zealand and several Pacific Island nations.
For Australia's travel and tourism sector – which struggled as visitor numbers fell almost 98 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels – the news brought elation.
"We're very excited about being able to reopen," said Tony Walker, managing director of the Quicksilver Group, which operates cruises, diving and resorts across the Great Barrier Reef.
"The last couple of years have been incredibly difficult for us," he told AFP, urging people overseas to "come visit".
During the pandemic the firm went from 650 employees down to the 300 it has today.
Walker said he expected "it will take some time to recover" from the past two years.
Many tourism operators around Australia are experiencing staff shortages, given how few backpackers and working holidaymakers are coming to Australia.
Despite the announcement, travel within Australia will still be restricted.
The vast state of Western Australia remains closed to most non-residents. It is currently easier to travel from Sydney to Paris than Sydney to Perth.