Special Report: NPC, CPPCC Annual Sessions
BEIJING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- China's top
legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), adopted a landmark property
law here Friday morning, granting equal protection to public and private
It only took less than a minute for the nearly 3,000
lawmakers to pass the much-revised bill, which had gone through a lengthy
legislation process of more than 13 years, by an overwhelming majority as the
NPC concluded its annual full session in the GreatHall of the People in downtown
The lawmakers applauded warmly after NPC Standing
Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo announced the voting results. A total of 2,799
lawmakers voted for the law and 52 against. Thirty-seven abstained and one
didn't cast vote.
The 247-article law, which is due to come into effect
as of Oct.1, 2007, stipulates that "the property of the state, the collective,
the individual and other obliges is protected by law, and no units or
individuals may infringe upon it".
This is the first time that equal protection to state
and private properties has been enshrined in a Chinese law, which analysts say
marks a significant step in the country's efforts to further economic reforms
and boost social harmony.
China's state and private properties once suffered
from serious violations due to a lack of respect for and protection of property
"The significance of the law's adoption lies in the
fact that it helps complete China's property rights system," commented
JiangPing, former president of the Chinese University of Political Science and
"Only when people's lawful property is well protected
could they have the enthusiasm to create more wealth and could China maintain
its economic development," said Jiang, a scholar involved in the early drafting
of the law.
The concept of improving the protection of private
property was first brought up at the 16th National Congress of the ruling
Communist Party of China (CPC) held in November 2002. In March 2004, the NPC
adopted a major amendment to the Chinese Constitution, stating that people's
lawful private property is inviolable.
Wang Shengming, deputy director of the Commission of
Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, said the hard-won property
law "reflects the spirit of the Constitution" and "adheres to the reform and
"It's significant progress in promoting rule of law
in the country," he said.
The draft of the property law was first submitted to
the NPC Standing Committee in 2002 and had been reviewed for an unprecedented
seven times before it reached this year's parliament session for final approval.
In response to doubts about equally protecting state
and private properties, Vice Chairman of NPC Standing Committee Wang Zhaoguo
said that under China's socialist market economy, all players enjoy the same
rights, observe the same rules and bear the same responsibilities.
If equal protection is not secured, "it will not be
possible to develop the socialist market economy, nor will it be possible to
uphold and improve the basic economic system of socialism," said Wang, when
tabling the bill to lawmakers last Thursday.
To address public concerns over fraudulent
acquisitions and mergers of state property, the law stipulates that illegal
possession, looting, illegal sharing, withholding or destruction of state
property is prohibited. Those who cause loss of state property shall bear legal
liability, according to the law.
In a move to better protect farmers from land
seizures, which frequently caused public anger, the law stresses the protection
of arable lands, stipulating that the transformation of land for agriculture
into land for construction is "strictly restricted".
For expropriation of collective-owned land,
compensations and subsidies for resettlement must be paid. "No unit or
individual shall embezzle, misappropriate, illegally share, withhold, or pay in
default, the compensations for expropriation or other fees," the law says.
Lawmakers also passed an enterprise income tax bill,
which puts domestic and foreign-funded companies on a more level playing field.
The 60-article law, adopted by lawmakers with 2,826
votes for and 37 against, ends two decades of preferential treatment for
foreign-funded firms by unifying tax rates at 25 percent. The move marks an
adjustment of China's policies toward foreign investment.
Currently, the actual average income tax rate on
Chinese companies is 25 percent, while that on foreign enterprises is 15
Experts said that the tax change is actually a
commitment to the World Trade Organization for equal treatment to enterprises,
which can strengthen China's responsible role and make it more attractive to
"The adoption of the two laws is of landmark
significance. Both of them emphasize equality among market players. I believe
the laws will greatly boost China's economic and social development," Lu Libin,
an NPC deputy from Hunan Province, told Xinhua.