Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People’s Congress (NPC), formally submitted the proposed constitutional amendments to the congress Monday afternoon on behalf of the 10th NPC Standing Committee.
During the panel discussion on the amendments, Tong Fu, an NPC deputy from Jiangsu Province, pointed out the importance of constitutional amendment by saying, “The Constitution is fundamental to all Chinese laws and should be kept stable, but the current amendments are necessary owing to China’s rapid economic and social development over the past several years,” he said.
Tong is also deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Committee under the NPC Standing Committee and vice chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang.
Two of the most talked-about amendments are those that offer constitutional protection of private property and human rights.
The private sector, an increasingly important part of China’s economy, has grown exponentially in the past 25 years. The government now allows private enterprises to invest in many previously forbidden sectors, and some entrepreneurs are also proving their worth in the realm of government and politics.
“[The amendment] is indeed encouraging news for us,” said Zong Qinghou, president of Wahaha Group and an NPC deputy of Zhejiang Province, one of the country’s rich provinces on the eastern coast. “The move benefits not only private businesses, but also all Chinese.”
“If the article on protection of private property is added to the constitution, it will give the common people more incentive to increase their wealth. As a result, the middle class will expand constantly in the future,” he added.
The move will also be an effective rein on capital outflow, Zong noted. “With no clear policy protecting legal private property in China, the rich have tended to transfer their assets overseas.”
Liu Hang, deputy director of the Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee under the 10th NPC Standing Committee and vice chairman of the China Democratic National Construction Association, paid a special attention to the revised article on human rights protection.
“It shows government’s regard for human rights,” Liu said. He pointed out that China has already implemented a number of measures to improve human rights protection in the past decades. For example, the central government launched a campaign last year to stop excessive detention.
China has amended its existing Constitution three times, most recently in 1999.
The current NPC session will vote on the amendments on March 14. A two-thirds majority is required to pass the draft into law.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Tang Fuchun, March 10, 2004)