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Law to Make Home Warmer

A draft amendment on the affairs of overseas Chinese seeks to further protect the rights and interests of these people and their families. Compared with the current law -- the amendment is expected to enhance the protection on rights and interests of returned overseas Chinese and their relatives on employment, education, housing and investment.

This draft amendment was deliberated by senior legislators at Wednesday's panel discussion for a second reading at the 18th session of the Ninth National People's Congress.

A draft proposal is usually put to vote after three readings by legislators.

Looking at the difficulties faced by farms and forest centers where many returned overseas Chinese live, some legislators have suggested adding a clause to strengthen the state's efforts to alleviate poverty in those zones.

Farms and forest centers were established by the government in the 1950s to settle returned overseas Chinese who had difficulty living abroad.

Most of them relocate in areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups, and in remote and poor areas.

For example, some of those who returned from Viet Nam now live on farms in Hainan Province and need a lot of help to survive, according to Mao Zhijun, a committee member from Hainan. "The state government should increase the aid given to research poverty-alleviating programs,'' said Mao.

Meanwhile, the returned overseas are encouraged to invest in China, especially invest on hi-tech industries, according to the amendment.

However, some new problems of returned overseas Chinese were also revealed during Wednesday's discussions.

"With the rapid growth in the number of returned overseas Chinese and their relatives, finding them all jobs is a challenge for the market economy,'' said Qi Shigui, a committee member from Shanghai.

According to the current law, the governments should give appropriate preferential treatment to returned overseas Chinese and their families.

This can include their spouses, parents, children and children's spouses, brothers and sisters, grandparents, grandchildren and other relatives.

Wu Yunchang, a committee member from Hunan Province, said some local governments hoped to reduce the number of relatives who qualify for governmental help. Meanwhile, senior legislators attending the session fully recognized the extraordinary contribution made by overseas Chinese and returned overseas Chinese in the state's construction.

They agreed to continue to encourage them to invest in all sorts of industries in China, especially those using advanced technology, and insisted that the government should give them preferential treatment.

There are more than 34 million overseas Chinese living in more than 170 countries and regions, committee figures indicate.

Many overseas Chinese have a lot of money and experience of advanced technology and management.

(China Daily 10/26/2000)

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