BEIJING has put rural development on top of its reform agenda for next year, reflecting the leadership's determination to maintain stability in the countryside. Xinhua (the New China News Agency) yesterday quoted State Planning Minister Chen Jinhua as saying: ''The first priority is to continue strengthening the farming sector as the foundation of the national economy, achieve an all-round growth of the ruraleconomy and increase farmers' incomes substantially.'' ''We must also pay close attention to farmland protection, and to the stabilisation of cropland and total output of grain crops and cotton,'' Xinhua quoted Mr Chen as saying. Other priority areas were reform of China's investment structure, importing foreign investment and technology, price reform, popularisation of markets, science and technology, better planning for state-owned enterprises and reform of the planning structure. Meanwhile, Jin Xin, director of State Administration of Taxation, has reportedly warned against the rise of ''regionalism'' as Beijing proceeded to reform the tax system. In a national taxation conference, Mr Jin warned local tax chiefs not to ''exaggerate their tax bases'' so as to secure a greater share of tax revenue next year. ''Such acts amount to inflation of regionalism and the rise of anarchy,'' Mr Jin was quoted by Xinhua as saying.