Home>News Center>China

Experts: Laws must outline rights
By Meng Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-31 00:12

China's new amendment to the Constitution, which highlights the protection of individuals' rights, needs more specific legislation to support the concepts it outlines, legal and economic scholars say.

Additional legislative efforts are needed to translate the Constitution from "a law on paper'' into concrete guarantees of individuals' rights, said Hu Jinguang, a law professor at the Renmin University of China.

The 10th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislative body, adopted the fourth amendment to the 1982 Constitution at its annual meeting earlier this month.

The Constitution was previously amended in 1988, 1993 and 1999.

The amendment stipulated that citizens' lawful private property is inviolable, putting private assets on an equal footing with public property.

Under the provisions of the amendment, the nation can in some circumstances, expropriate private property in accordance with the law when the public interest will be served. But it must compensate citizens for the expropriation, the amendment states.

In more general terms, the amendment says the country respects and preserves the overarching concept of human rights for the first time within the Constitution, although Chinese law has always safeguarded the rights of individuals.

"Individuals are the primary beneficiaries of such a stipulation since they gain the right to oppose arbitrary interference by the government into their private lives or property,'' said Mo Jihong, a researcher at the Institute of Legal Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

"All government and judicial bodies should increase their awareness of protecting private property now that the Constitution has been amended,'' Mo said.

Zhou Wangsheng, a professor of law with the Centre for Legislation at Peking University, said the constitutional amendment is major social progress.

"It not only reflects the fruits of domestic economic reform but tallies with trends in international economic integration and global constitutional developments,'' Zhou said.

But he said the constitutional amendment is just a prelude to further legislation that is needed.

"More specific legislation, including a separate law on the protection of private property, is needed to support the constitutional stipulation,'' Zhou said.

Mo said the draft law on tangible property rights, which is expected to be reviewed by the national lawmakers this year, will clearly define the rights individuals hold on their belongings by types and the nature of these rights.

The draft civil code, which was preliminarily reviewed by the NPC Standing Committee in 2002, also specifies these rights, Mo said, adding that both legislation will offer the legal basis for individuals to exercise their rights.

Zhang Houyi, a researcher at the Institute of Social Studies under the CASS, said more emphasis should be put on the protection of common people especially the poor and disadvantaged, referring to the grievously postponed payments of salaries of farmers-turned workers.

The constitutional amendment also replaces the term "martial law'' by the term "state of emergency,'' paving the way for legislation on states of emergency conditions.

National legislators are expected to review a draft law on states of emergency at the end of this year.

Emergency usually refers to an unforeseen combination of circumstances or a resulting state that calls for immediate action to maintain public order and ensure the safety of people's lives and property.

Extraordinary measures usually involve restrictions on citizens' rights and freedoms to varying extents.

The draft bill on states of emergency will ensure that the country is ruled by law even under emergency circumstances, said Yu An, a professor of administrative law with the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, who participated in writing the draft bill.

Yu said the proposal will set an upper limit for state power and a floor level for the citizens' rights at the same time, forcing the government to take rational and restricted measures in the states of emergency.

  Today's Top News     Top China News

China alters visa rules for US visitors



Experts: Laws must outline rights



Nation continues to fight US motion



Efforts pay off in IPR protection



65 children poisoned after school breakfast



Scientists win World Food Prize


  Residence permits urged for foreigners
  Efforts pay off in IPR protection
  Nation continues to fight US motion
  China alters visa rules for US visitors
  Two Chinese workers killed in Sudan
  Finding home is a snap with website
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Party calls for implementation of Constitution
Details of the amendments to the Constitution
Constitution amendments endorsed
Opinion: Inclusion of human rights an important milestone
Constitution to be amended a fourth time
A step further in guarding private property
  News Talk  
  Sex Education, a necessary evil?