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The Private Property Party

The issue of private property rights is a tough one – even for a “socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics”. The “privatisation” of state-owned enterprises did not really happen, there was just an introduction of “diversified forms of ownership”, but the confirmation of private property rights seems more difficult one to fudge….not least because, as The Economist points out, the Chinese name for the Communist Party is the “Public Property Party”! (Nevertheless, People’s Daily has done its best to find the silver lining, with a headline stating: “Property legislation embodies spirit and principle of Constitution”).

No surprise then that China Digital Times [1]has noted a Wall Street Journal article that reports on heightened sensitivities around the subject – sensitivities that may have resulted in the current issue of the business magazine Caijing being pulled and revised. The FT has reported on fears in some quarters that the law has “overturned the basic system of socialism”. However another view is reflected by Yin Tian, a professor at Peking University (who had a hand in drafting), who is quoted as saying:

The Economist’s take on it is as follows:

As for the provisions of the law, these will become clear in due course (as will their enforcement) but, according to a draft from 8th March (reviewed by The Economist), the following points come out:

The introduction of the property law has been an uphill battle against some entrenched ideological interests, but its successful introduction is likely to represent another step forward in the quest for the holy grail of the “harmonious society [2]”.

See news sources: