China's top legislature will deliberate two draft laws, one on the protection of public and private property, and another that unifies the tax rates of foreign and domestic firms, at the fifth session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) which gets underway next Monday.
Wang Zhaoguo, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the two bills, if they are passed, will improve the country's socialist market economy.
The much-debated draft property law has been through a record seven readings since it was first brought to the country's top legislature in 2002.
The draft property law states that the country's market economy system will guarantee all market players equal legal status and equal opportunity of development", and will protect public assets and private property alike.
Well-informed sources say the latest revision of the property law now covers the assets of collectively owned by towns.
Civil law experts say the draft property law is in line with the essential spirit of Chinese constitution, and will help the country's property protection system fit the market economy.
The less-controversial draft of the corporate tax law was approved by the NPC Standing Committee in 2006, and is expected to be promulgated in January 1, 2008 if approved by the top legislature.
Currently, foreign companies in China's economic zones are taxed at a rate of 15 to 24 percent, while domestic companies are taxed at 33 percent.
The draft corporate income tax law, aimed to promote fairer competition between foreign and domestic companies, sets the unified income tax rate for both domestic and foreign companies at 25 percent.
Although some worry the unified tax rate may discourage foreign investment, there is a consensus, including many foreign companies in China that the rate is fair.
Finance Minister Jin Renqing says that foreign companies won't be much affected by the new policy, as the draft law still sets a preferential tax rate for high and new-technology companies in all regions of the country at 15 percent, and foreign companies will have a five-year grace period before being taxed at 25 percent.
Sources with the NPC Standing Committee believe that the majority of representatives of the NPC will vote in favor of two bills.
(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2007)