China strengthens property rights protection to enhance entrepreneurial confidence

Updated 2018-01-24 17:25:02 Xinhua

The Central Political and Legal Work Conference which opened in Beijing this week has sent a strong signal that the government will take more measures to shore up property rights to raise people's sense of wealth security.

The conference has highlighted that the country will attach greater importance to the protection of property rights, vowing to accelerate the retrials of major property-ownership-related cases to boost business confidence and foster positive market expectations.

"We will safeguard entrepreneurs' personal rights, property rights, and right to dignity to make them feel safer and more secure," Guo Shengkun, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the committee, stressed during the conference.

Guo noted that in terms of property rights protection, to handle one single case properly is more useful than releasing a dozen guidelines. He urged authorities to re-examine and correct a batch of cases that had caused public outcry as soon as possible.

China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) recently decided to rehear three major property-ownership-related cases including the case of Gu Chujun, former chairman of refrigerator maker Guangdong Kelong Electrical Holdings.

Gu was arrested in 2005 and sentenced to 10 years in 2009 for falsifying and withholding information and embezzlement. He filed a petition to the SPC in 2012.

The SPC reviewed Gu's case and decided to rehear the case under article 242 of China Criminal Procedure Law, which states that a retrial can be granted if the original ruling was based on insufficient, illegal or contradictory evidence, or that the application of law was inappropriate.

Gu expressed his excitement on his Weibo account the day the SPC announced the retrial, saying the case is a symbol of the country's property rights protection.

Liu Renwen, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the decision to retry the three cases, no matter what the ruling will be, makes more people believe that permanent property ownership inspires perseverance, thus raising the impetus for entrepreneurship and innovation by various economic entities.

"When tackling the current weaknesses in property rights protection, law enforcement and judicial agencies try to improve their work style by taking into account the legal, political and social effects at the same time," said Xu Hanming, professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

During the conference, courts across China were urged to strictly distinguish between economic disputes and economic crimes, clarifying the boundary between legal enterprises and illegal organizations, and that between financing and illegal fundraising.

"Courts are required to apply different degrees of judicial policies to property rights and economic disputes," said Wang Haiyan, professor at China University of Political Science and Law, adding that applying the measures used to tackle criminal offenses to economic disputes is strictly prohibited.

According to the report to the 19th CPC National Congress which was held last October, China will concentrate on improving the property rights system and ensuring the market-based allocation of factors of production, so that property rights act as effective incentives.

China will also strengthen the creation, protection, and application of intellectual property to foster a culture of innovation, reads the report.

In a guideline on better protection of property rights issued in 2016, China pledged to provide equal, comprehensive and law-based protection to all kinds of property rights and encourage the participation of the public in the process.

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