Saturday, March 17, 2007

China moves in the direction of more formal property rights for peasants


China has moved in the direction of a formal market economy as it passed a complicated law regarding property rights, a concept that we take for granted in the U.S. Although officially communist, the government has had to engage in double-talk regarding property in recent years as people “buy” apartments and businesses. Now there is additional protection for peasants with long-term leases.

There was an ideological debate before passing the law, as some intellectuals claimed that state control of land is actually essential to economic growth. The government managed the debate on the Internet, allowing postings but having them removed before passing the law.

The news story is by Edward Cory of the Washington Post Foreign Service, “Chinese Lawmakers Approve Measure to Protect Private Property Rights,” March 17, 2007, here.

In the 1960s, remember, Mao Tse Tung had engineered the Cultural Revolution, where intellectuals were required to “pay their dues” and share the burdens of others by moving into the countryside to do manual labor under primitive conditions. The ideological concern over burden-sharing is surfacing again in this country with a renewed debate about conscription and national service.

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