Constitutional revision protects human rights 03-08-2004 14:59

The proposed revisions mark the biggest change to China's Constitution since it was adopted in 1954. The amendments include former President Jiang Zemin's "Three Represents" Theory, as well as clauses that protect human rights and private property

If approved by the legislature, the constitutional revision will be the fourth in 16 years. But this time, its impact will be of greater significance. In the spotlight, is the new addition of protecting human rights.

Prof. He Jiahong at Renmin University said, "I think we should admit that we didn't give sufficient consideration to protecting human rights. We've seen many improper government activities."

Observers say the Chinese system has been power-oriented, but with the economic take-off, that system is changing.

Prof. Zhu Suli at Peking University said, "The market economy has brought development. It's not that we forgot human rights, but that we will establish and stabilize these rights in the Constitution, so that every one can enjoy it."

People will also be able to have their private property legally protected. The revision provides citizens' lawful property must not be violated. In the case of a government requisition for the sake of public interest, compensation is a must.

Prof. Xu Xianming from University of Political Science & Law, said, "Property right is the basic right of every citizen. The proposed amendment will improve people's livelihood by giving their property legal protection."

The private sector is believed to be another beneficiary of the new provision.

Prof. Xu Chongde at Renmin University said, "Private property rights are applicable to ordinary people's living materials, but also covers the means of production owned by individuals, such as factory buildings, equipment and capital assets."

Another proposed revision strengthens the legal protection of the private sector. It says the government encourages and supports the private sector; while in the past the wording was to guide and supervise.

Observers say the revisions are important for building a society ruled by law. But they say there is still a lot to do -- and the more important task after the ratification will be to build an effective mechanism to guarantee their enforcement.


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