Law to Define Rights of Possession

The draft law on tangible property rights, expected to be read by China's top legislative body later this year, will stimulate investment by giving equal protection to private, State-owned and collectively-owned properties when it is passed.

That is according to Wang Liming, a Chongqing deputy to the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC) and one of the leading drafters of the law.

"The law, related to rights of possession, will not give any preference to any specific kind of property ownership," said Wang, who is also a professor of civil law at Renmin University of China.

The requirements of the market economy that China is striving to build demand that legal subjects are not differentiated due to manners of ownership, he added.

Wang's words were echoed by Liang Huixing, a professor of civil law with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"As long as the property is legally acquired, it should receive the same amount of protection no matter if it is publicly or privately owned," Liang said.

The main purpose of the property rights law is to define and specify rights of possession in China.

Legal protection for private property has never before been clearly defined in Chinese law, although an amendment to the Constitution in 1999 lifts the private economy from "a complement to the socialist economy" to "an important composing part" of the socialist market economy.

Controversy over the different treatment for State-owned, collectively-owned and private property has long plagued the law. However, Wang said legislators have now reached agreement on the principle of equal protection.

The Standing Committee of the Ninth NPC is now busy working on the draft of the law. It is expected that the draft law will be passed before March, 2003, said Zeng Jianhui, spokesman for the Fourth Session of the Ninth NPC.

The draft law to be submitted to legislators will be based on two draft versions written by two groups of scholars led by Wang and Liang respectively.

The impending law, which is expected to legalize private property, will stimulate consumption and investment, Wang said.

Fei Ziwen, an NPC deputy from Sichuan, shared Wang's view. "It will ensure that people who get rich in legal ways are protected by the law," Fei said. "Otherwise, they would not be free to buy things and to make investments."

Consumption, investment and exports are all important to the growth of the national economy, he added.

Only when the right of possession is guaranteed can investors have confidence in making investments, Wang said.

Wang also said the proposed law will not only confirm and protect property rights, but also establish the basic rules of a market economy.

The basic market rules will make transactions more transparent and the dissemination of information more open, which is crucial to the protection of consumers' rights, Wang said.

For example, Wang said some house buyers find it difficult to find out whether the house they are buying has been mortgaged or not. As a result, some are cheated due to the lack of accessibility to sufficient information.

By introducing a property rights registration system, the draft law gives better protection to both investors and consumers, he added.

(China Daily 03/14/2001)