Lawmaker proposes allowing quake survivors to go bankrupt
Updated: 2009-03-11 19:56

BEIJING -- China should establish a personal bankruptcy system to enable people worst affected by last year's devastating earthquake to enjoy normal life at an early date, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.

"The earthquake destroyed hundreds of thousands of houses. Though the houses collapsed, the quake-affected people still need to pay off their mortgage according to law," Shi Ying, a deputy to the National People's Congress, said in a bill submitted to the parliament.

"Even if they don't have to pay now because of a lack of money, they have to pay off in the future whenever they have the money," said Shi, also professor of the law school under Liaoning University in northeast Liaoning Province.

"If there is a personal insolvency system, we can declare someone is bankrupt according to a fixed standard. And the bank can take all his or her assets except minimal living necessities for the family, and the debt is thus cleared," she said.

"Though the word 'bankruptcy' does not sound good, the system will help those with individual insolvency avoid endless demand of debt payment, and thus protect their basic interests and ensure their survival," she said.

A magnitude-8.0 earthquake hit Wenchuan County, Sichuan Province in southwest China on May 12, 2008. The quake, the most destructive natural disaster to hit China for decades, left more than 87,000 people dead or missing and millions homeless.

Experts said China has entered an era of credit-driven spending, and an increasing number of Chinese are purchasing apartments, cars and luxurious items on bank loans.

In recent years, China eased the threshold for bank loans and cut deposit interest rates to boost individual investment, Shi said.

"Individual consumption loans can spur increase of domestic consumption, but it can easily led to insolvency for individuals especially amid the global financial downturn," she said.

Shi proposed that China refer to the existing corporate bankruptcy law and the civil procedure law, as well as experiences of other countries to set up the individual bankruptcy system.