By Wang Biqiang
Published: 2008-01-10

Draftee: China's State Asset Bill Still Flawed
From News, page 4, isssue no. 349
Translated by Liu Peng
Original article: [Chinese]

Despite knowing how sensitive and controversial the drafting of the State-owned Assets Law would be, Li Shuguang, a draftee, was still shocked at the intensity of debate surrounding it. After 15 years of contentious crafting behind closed doors, an initial draft of the law was finally unveiled last month. Li, a professor of China's Political Science and Law University, sat down with the Economic Observer for an interview last week to discuss where it must go from here.

Li says that it is an important step forward that the draft does not give the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission the power to supervise. But ultimate improvements to and passage of the law will depend on the resolve of both the new administration and the National People’s Congress.

The Economic Observer: After more than 14 years of deliberation, why did the draft finally enter its first screening at the end of 2007?

Li: The draft's reviewing at the end of the year coincided with the National People's Congress' second to last meeting, which reflects its importance and the amount of attention it has garnered thus far. It was also an opportune time when work could be done on it. (Editor's note: This year in March, China will welcome a new National People’s Congress).

First, that it has taken fourteen years of deliberation so far to draft this law is an indication of its complexity. Second, there was a sense of trying to catch up with the law by the NPC. Third, the draft is tied to the Property Law, which came into effect last year and which also touches on issues relating to state-owned assets. In some ways, the draft embodies the spirit of the 17th Party Conference.

Meanwhile, although the draft outlines the direction that state-owned asset management will take, it hasn't set down details in lieu of the new government having yet to take office and laying out its own track for government reform.

Seven Focuses
The EO: During the first review, members of the standing committee of the NPC put forward many opinions about the draft, what do you think of them?

Li: The opinions are mainly focused on the following points.

First, many of them speak of the necessity of the law from the angle of managing losses in state-owned assets. Their focus on this issue completely mirrors society’s, and is tied to widespread discussion of it two years ago.

The second is employee rights and interests in state-owned enterprise (SOE). Reform of SOEs, their performance, and asset transfers all affect their employees. At the Party Congress, many took politically correct stances on this. But in reality, the staff’s interests are damaged to some extent.

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