[JURIST] China's National People's Congress [official website] started debate Sunday on the seventh draft of a landmark private property bill [Xinhua backgrounder] intended to protect state, collective and private property [CRI report]. If passed, the legislation will be first bill in China's history to specifically protect private ownership.
The controversial bill has already sparked public debate [AFP report] on whether the law represents a serious departure from Communist values or a realistic modern view of the nation's economic position. The legislation has been in revision since its introduction in 2002 and has had more reviews than any other in the NPC's history. A review of its sixth version [JURIST report] was completed in October. In March 2004 the NPC officially enshrined private property protection in the Chinese constitution [JURIST report] by approving an amendment declaring "legal private property is not to be encroached upon." The NPC Sunday also considered legislation that would equalize tax rates paid by Chinese and foreign companies, many of which get tax breaks that some say hurt domestic entrepreneurs. AP has more.