03/09/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Npc: in the end China opts for private property

Despite attempts by radical communists to obstruct it; the property law defending private investments, houses and lands has been presented. But the problem of overseeing its application remains. The Church also awaits the restitution of its rightful properties.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The long anticipated property law was presented yesterday at the National People's Congress, to be voted on by March 16th, at the end of the Assembly.

The draft legislation, ready since 2002, has had a difficult course: at least 100 Standing Committee meetings debated the issue. The strong opposition from leftists determined to stress the ideological primacy of socialism. Following approval, which seems almost certain, the law will be in vigour from October 2007.

NPC Standing Committee vice-chairman Wang Zhaoguo introduced the draft during the ongoing legislative session and addressed the advantages of the bill for Chinese society, and that the draft would benefit the defence of both the public and private property.

The 247 points contained in the 40 page draft provide a strong defence of state property against “illegal possession, looting, illegal sharing, withholding or destruction by any unit or individual”. Thus aiming to put an end to below cost sales of industries and properties belonging to the state, which all too easily fall into the hands of private owners (often party members).

 

Another part of the law will limit conditions relating to the transfer of rights over contracted rural land and will prohibit these transfers for land with existing homes. These elements should in theory, prevent land being taken from farmers by unscrupulous party members, the root cause of some of the worst social unrest in recent years.  

The draft also defines the various forms of private property (investments, houses, personal assets, etc..) and determines strict conditions of payment to owners in the case of state expropriation.  

 

A proposed corporate income law was also unveiled yesterday.  The bill seeks to unify the rate of income tax paid by foreign and domestic firms at 25 per cent. Upon till now foreign companies were facilitated by a tax rate at 15% (local companies at 33%).

 

The law, in vigour as of next year, will lead to a 134 billion Yuan (13. 4billion euro) decrease in corporate income tax from Chinese businesses and a 41 billion Yuan (4 billion euro) increase from foreign businesses.

Many analysts have applauded the arrival of these two laws, which render president Hu Jintao’s slogan “a society of harmony” more credible, but they also voice concern: the problem in China is not the law but the correct application of the law.

A concrete example is found in the situation of many Catholic Church properties. Despite regulations passed by Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin ordering the restitution of land and buildings confiscated during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, still today over 80% of Church property remains in the hands of secretaries of the Patriotic Association and members of the Office for Religious Affairs, who use them for private benefit.

 

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