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Constitutional Amendments to Limit Public Power, Protect Individuals' Rights

Among the clauses proposed in the draft, two of them are of central importance to legal experts: the protection of private property, and the guarding of human rights. Professor Jiao Hongchang from the China University of Political Science and Law says the constitutional protection of private property is a necessity in present day China.

"Ownership of private property in China has increased dramatically in recent years. To match the country's changing landscape, there should be new rulings in the Constitution covering new and future ownership. The amendment can also limit the government's power, thus protecting private property from being violated by public powers."

Constitutional protection of private property is also a concern of China's overall financial security. The professor says in the past, many private entrepreneurs were afraid their property would be taken away by the government, and transferred ownership to foreign countries. With legal protection, private property can also be transferred to a family's future generations, which can stimulate people's desire to accumulate wealth. And more importantly, this amendment will technically form a basis for further legislation on private property protection.

Human rights protection is another amendment considered important by the professor. He says it's a great step forward for China's legal construction and it makes China's legal system in line with international standards.

"Protection of human rights reflects the CPC's ruling philosophy that government serve the people. This means government power will be restrained and will better respecting individuals' rights. This amendment sets the underlying purpose of the constitution, which is the care for the people."

Zheng Jindu is a partner of the Zhejiang Liuhe Law Firm, a privately run company in south China's Zhejiang Province, where the private sector has been prosperous for decades. As a person working in legal circles, he has a deep understanding of the necessity of constitutional protection of private property.

"Previously, the constitution focused more on the protection of state property and collective property, but it has some shortcomings in protecting private property. As an individual possessing property, I now feel more secure with my wealth. This is good for the creation of social wealth, and good for economic and social stability."

He says following the amendment, there should be a clear definition of lawful private property that is entitled to legal protection.

(CRI March 9, 2004)

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