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NPC panel adopts constitutional changes

By P. S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE Dec. 28. The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC or Parliament) has adopted key draft amendments to the country's Constitution. The changes, as approved in the form of a bill during the week-end, will be sent for deliberation and possible passage by the second annual session of the 10th NPC, scheduled to convene in Beijing in March.

The 14 draft amendments were first sent to the Committee by the Central Committee of the governing Communist Party of China (CPC). They are designed to incorporate the principle of "Three Represents'' in the basic statute and endorse the protection of lawful private property, among other refinements of the "socialist market economy''.

The Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, Wu Bangguo, said on Saturday that the revision was in line with China's situation, according to an official version. The changes would help China keep pace with the times, he said.

The proposals regarding private property and human rights are seen to flow from the "Three Represents'' that the former President and current Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Jiang Zemin, had first formulated, according to regional political observers. The principle, enshrined in the CPC's charter in November 2002, portrays the party as representing, always, "the development trend of China's advanced productive forces, the orientation of China's advanced culture and the fundamental interests of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese people''. This formula is intended to supplement the existing orientation of the party and the state.

Several amendments, fashioned to promote China's economic reforms and its opening-up process, have already been incorporated in the state Constitution in 1988, 1993 and 1999.

It was stipulated in 1988 that private economy could begin to coexist with the public economy and grow within limits as might be prescribed by law. The idea was that the private economy would complement the public sector.

Following further developments in China's economic evolution, the concept of "socialist market economy'' took a firm shape in 1993.

The private sector was recognised in 1999 as a key component of the "socialist market economy''. The draft amendments are designed to usher in the concept of legal private property within the framework of the overall economy.

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