Members of China's private sector are calling for legislation to support the rights of individual property owners.
Chinese private economy's voice Jing Shuping Wednesday called for legislation supporting property rights, although private ownership has for decades been regarded as the root of evil.
Proposed amendments to the country's Constitution will protect individuals against unreasonable seizures of their property, said Jing, chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC).
The ACFIC, which is also called the China Non-Governmental Chamber of Commerce, represents the country's 27 million private business owners.
Apparently encouraged by the latest calls for a greater representation of private business people from Jiang Zemin, general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, Jing said the legislation should ensure that the right is sacred and inviolable, the same language used in the Constitution to describe State assets.
Jing, also vice-chairman of the National Council of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told China Daily he would make the proposal to the CPPCC.
Jing noted the lack of legal protection and fears that people would be deprived of their property. This anxiety among private business owners was resulting in slackening individual investment and the flight of capital abroad, he said.
No authority or administration shall deprive any person of possessions without due process of law once the right to property is firmly embedded in the Constitution, Jing said.
Jing's appeal is coupled with similar calls from scholars and experts.
Jing said there was unfairness in that people prosecuted for embezzling State funds would be dealt with much more severely than similar cases involving private property.
Jing pointed out that the latest policy revisions meant the situation for private investment was improving. Now, all sectors that permit foreign investment are also open to private investment, although restrictions remain in some sectors such as the defence industry.
He said he was aware of lingering problems. In the telecommunications sector, private capital cannot hold more than 49 per cent of the stock of a specific business.
The discriminative rules mean private investment cannot control a telecommunication enterprise, Jing said.
The sectors that now permit private capital include road and sea port construction, manufacturing of aircraft parts and long-distance natural gas pipelines, such as the planned pipeline from the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to Shanghai.
With China set to enter the World Trade Organization at the beginning of next year, Jing said the deregulation of industries would accelerate.
(China Daily 07/19/2001)