Lawmakers debate private property

Updated: 2006-12-25 08:55

Beijing -- A law to protect private property in China took a step closer to approval Sunday as Chinese lawmakers began debating the newest draft version of the legislation, a news report said.

The seventh draft of the law "strikes a balance between private property and state ownership," and backers hope to be able to enact it when China's parliament holds its next full session in March, the Xinhua News Agency said.

The law, first proposed five years ago, ran into opposition from leftists, who complained it would undermine government control of the economy and worsen the growing gap between a small elite who have benefited from two decades of economic reform and the poor majority.

It was withdrawn during parliament's last full session in March in a demonstration of the intensity of debate over the extent of state control of the economy as China pursues reforms.

Xinhua said opposition faded after a fifth draft of the law enshrined government ownership "at the heart of the economic system."

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