Chinese Legal Experts Discuss Draft Property Law and Prospects for Adoption by the NPC

October 28, 2004

According to various Chinese media reports, the NPC Standing Committee held its second deliberation on China’s draft Property Law last week. The law covers both personal and real property and sets out the basic rights and obligations of property owners. One report in the Beijing News reviewed the deliberation process and nine key points of the draft with legal scholar Wang Liming, one of the principal drafters of the law. According to Wang, the Property Law is one part of a longer Civil Code that is presently under deliberation in China. However, experts consider passage of the Property Law portion of the Civil Code to be urgent because it provides a necessary legal framework for realizing principles on private property added to the PRC Constitution in March of this year. As such, the NPC Standing Committee will deliberate on and pass the Property Law separately. Wang notes that while the Standing Committee is typically cautious in reviewing such key legislation, the third and final deliberation by the NPC Standing Committee is likely to take place within three months. The China Daily reports that the full NPC is expected to pass the law during its March 2005 session.

Both the Beijing News piece and other articles on the NPC Standing Committee session contain broad pronouncements on the fundamental nature of property rights. Wang states that private property rights are “one of the three key civil rights, also including the right to life and the right to liberty.” An article in the People’s Procuratorate Daily declares that “amending and perfecting the legal framework for protecting private property is the inevitable result of constitutional government,” and that “the rights to life and liberty are not possible in a society that does not have a system of property rights or that does not guarantee property rights.”