The Expansion of Private Property Rights

It may seen a bit policy wonky, but it’s a historic step. The People’s Republic debates the reform of property rights, in the Beijing Review.

Chinese philosopher Mencius, who lived over 2,200 years ago, once said, “People can have a long-term life plan only after knowing their private properties are secured.”

This teaching deeply influenced China for more than 2,000 years, but after the People’s Republic was founded in 1949, public ownership gradually played a dominant role.

Since China began to embrace the market economy in the early 1980s, private property rights and ownership have been increasing, but they remain an unfamiliar concept for many in the country.

Following a revision to China’s Constitution to include private property rights protection, the country is now expected to adopt the Property Law this March. If passed at the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), that law would define and regulate property rights across China for the first time.

A draft property law had its first reading in China’s legislature in 2002 as part of a civil code. Since then it has been deliberated on for seven times. During those deliberations the full text of the draft law was also released to the general public to solicit opinion. At the 25th session of the 10th NPC Standing Committee held last December, lawmakers reached a consensus on the draft law.