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Constitution Amendment Proposed to Protect Private Property

A national association for entrepreneurs said that the Constitution should be amended to ensure stronger state protection of private property.

This is the highlight of a proposal calling for equal protection of private property that the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce is going to introduce at the upcoming annual full session of the Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a major political advisory body in the nation.

The Constitution stipulates that state-owned property is "divine and imprescriptible."

It also said that the country must protect its citizens' legitimate income, bank deposit and home. But such a stipulation could be interpreted as excluding means of production from state protection, according to the federation's proposal.

The Constitution bans destruction of state-owned properties "by any organizations or individuals by any means."

It does not offer the same level of protection given to private properties, however, according to the proposal.

The federation said it hopes the Constitution will stipulate its protection of private property in language as clear and as strong as that applied to state-owned properties.

The federation, which represents non-governmental enterprises in China, is one of 34 sections represented in the CPPCC.

The proposal also urges the Constitution to make clear whether the nation will exercise nationalization or expropriation.

"Without such a stipulation, the future of some private enterprises remains unknown, and that's a disadvantage for social stability," the proposal states.

The nation now has more than 1.7 million privately run domestic enterprises with an investment of 1.1 trillion yuan (US$132.85 billion) and a labor force of 27 million, statistics show.

Private enterprises are private businesses employing more than eight people. Those with fewer than eight employees fall into the category of individual businesses in China.

The 1999 amendment to the country's Constitution upgraded the non-state economy from a "complement to the state-owned economy" to "an important constituting part" of the socialist market economy.

It has been widely regarded as a milestone in the promotion of private enterprises in China.

In another development, Jing Shuping, chairman of the federation, called yesterday for early establishment of a national credit system to help the private sector raise money.

Commercial banks are typically cautious about giving loans to private enterprises, especially small and medium-sized ones, because of the risks involved.

Jing's federation will recommend drafting a law to regulate the operation of such a credit system.

"Such a credit system will help expand domestic demand and encourage consumption," said Jing, who is also vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee.

(China Daily March 2, 2002)

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