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Draft Property Law Tabled in Legislature
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The controversial draft property law, a sweeping bill designed to protect both public and private ownership, is about to be submitted to the country's top legislature for the sixth time.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) will convene next Friday for a five-day regular legislative session. Sources close to the NPC on Friday said the draft property law would be a key issue on the agenda.

The draft was first submitted to the legislature in 2002 and has gone through a rare fifth reading. It was withdrawn from the NPC full session in March amid worries that the draft, the country's first specific law to protect private ownership, could undermine the legal foundation of China's socialist system.

But opposition faded after drafters revised the fifth version in August to install state ownership at the heart of the economic system.

Drafters said that, in the Chinese context, the primary concern in making a property law is to comprehensively and accurately reflect China's economic system in which public ownership plays a dominant role and diverse forms of ownership develop side by side

Lawmakers on the NPC Standing Committee appeared to have achieved an ideological consensus on the draft, and the debate moved on to specific issues such as the ownership of parking spaces, the transfer of rural housing, and the law's coverage of rivers and oceans.

During the process lawmakers have collected more than 15,000 suggestions from the general public, who have showed enormous interest in the draft law.

It is hoped that the marathon legislative process will end next March with a vote by the full NPC session.

(Xinhua News Agency October 21, 2006)

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