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China Is Expected to Assure Human and Property Rights

March 09, 2004|From Times Wire Services

BEIJING — Lawmakers began considering amendments to China's Constitution on Monday that would enshrine protection of private property and human rights for the first time since the Communists swept to power in 1949.

The changes, already endorsed by the Communist Party, also would declare support for entrepreneurs who are creating millions of jobs and driving the country's economic boom.

A vote is due Sunday, and the largely ceremonial National People's Congress appears sure to approve the changes.

China has basic laws on private property, but with millions of people starting businesses and buying homes and stock, entrepreneurs have lobbied for constitutional guarantees.

The new amendment on land says that "private property obtained legally shall not be violated." Another would publicly ally the government with capitalists who once were considered the enemy.

The constitution, however, may not be cited in legal judgments, and courts cannot review laws' constitutionality.

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