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Beijing vows to cement residential property rights

Beijing vowed on Sunday to step up protection for property rights, including conducting research on extending the land-use rights for homeowners.

In guidelines released by the State Council, the government pledged to increase people’s confidence in the safety of assets, and provide law-based protection for all kinds of property rights.

Most homes bought on the mainland only include rights to the use of the property for a certain number of years, and questions about future ownership have started to crop up as some contracts near their expiration date.

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The guidelines say research should be conducted into a system to extend rights to residential property after the initial period expires, in order to foster expectations that property rights will be respected in the long term.

The new guidelines, the details of which were left up to respective government departments, also say steps will be taken to improve the handling of assets of corporations that violate the law.

Under certain circumstances, corporations that were subject to suspension or having their assets frozen would be allowed to reserve some capital, minimising the impact on their normal business activities, the State Council document said.

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The interests of shareholders should be protected even if corporations had allegedly violated laws, it said.

A clear distinction between economic disputes and economic crimes should also be made, according to the guidelines.

And disputes that were triggered by private companies involved in mergers with or the restructuring of state-owned enterprises should not be regarded as attempts to maliciously acquire state assets, they added.

Chang Pengao, a law professor at Peking University, was quoted by state-run Xinhua as saying that the new guidelines were aimed at restricting the power of law-enforcement agencies and ensuring the protection of legitimate personal assets.

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Xinhua said the State Council guidelines were the first on property protection issued by the central government on the mainland, where lax enforcement of property laws and unclear land ownership regulations have been a problem for decades.

The guidelines call for equal treatment under the law for all property holders, and for fair and clear laws when land or homes are requisitioned.

Additional reporting by Reuters