Property Rights Law

The property rights law has passed. ChinaDaily.com has a helpful graphic to show how overwhelming support was:


Of course, the NPC has never failed to pass legislation that has come up for a vote. The most famous expression of disapproval in recent memory is the 1992 vote on the Three Gorges Dam where 1767 approved, 177 against, and a staggering 644 abstained. [Those numbers are from this chapter {pdf} which is consistent with the “1/3 of delegates abstaining” that one generally sees reference too.]

Here are some takes from different sources on the law: LAT, NYT, China Daily, the Beijing News. While the China Daily headline is: “Equal Rights, Equal Rules under New Law,” both the LAT and NYT note the law helps (or “buoys” in NYT headline speak) the middle class. The LAT spells out what this reference to the middle class is all about directly in a subhead:

Concessions recognize the growing power of the middle class, but they don’t extend to farmers.

The NYT ignores that farmers are not included (although in previous pieces this fact was mentioned). Also, the use of “middle class” is a bit odd. It seems obvious that the rich are the ones that are most helped out by this law, as they hold the most property.* Now it is possible that they are using “middle class” to refer to those in China who have lifestyles similar to those of the middle class in the US, but that seems a bit of a stretch.

Obviously different audiences are interested in different aspects of this story, but it is still slightly amusing to me that only the Chinese sources mention when the law will actually start taking effect (October 1, 2007).

* A true cynic might claim that the ultra-rich are those with political connections and that the property rights law will decrease the value of such connections by limiting the amount that the politically connected can steal and thus use of “middle class” is fair.

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