China Enacts Property Rights
After 14 years of drafting, eight rounds of discussions and considerable controversy,
the National People's Congress ("
", China's highest legislative body) finally
Property Rights Law
of the People's Republic of China
") on 16
March 2007, the first comprehensive civil law governing property rights in the PRC.
The PRL will take effect on 1 October 2007.
The PRL covers a broad range of
matters in relation to property rights, containing 247 articles divided into five
In addition to consolidating some of the existing rules relating to property
rights that can be found scattered in a number of other laws, the PRL also
introduces several new concepts and measures, such as an improved registration
system for real property in China and a significant extension of available security
Given the breadth of issues that the PRL covers, this briefing is not intended
to be a complete overview but highlights some of the key aspects which may have a
significant impact on the Chinese legal landscape.
Scope of Application
The PRL governs the civil relationships arising from obtaining and utilising property.
It covers both real property and personal property.
Real property usually includes
land, buildings and other immovable fixtures and personal property refers to all
property other than real property.
Property rights recognised by the PRL include ownership (
) and security rights (
: the right to possess, use, benefit from and dispose of real
property and personal property;
: the right to possess, use and benefit from real property
and personal property owned by others; and
: the rights of secured creditors to be reimbursed from the
proceeds of disposed collateral in priority to unsecured creditors, including right of
mortgage, right of pledge and right of lien.
The title, the
Property Rights Law
in Chinese is
As there are no corresponding terms for this concept under Anglo-Saxon law
and no official English translation is available to date, the author has adopted the commonly used translation of this term for the purpose
of this article (i.e.,
is translated into "Property Rights Law",
is translated into "property rights" and
is translated into
The five Chapters are (1) general provisions (2) ownership (3) usufructuary rights (4) security rights and (5) possession.
Although the PRL does not define real property and personal property, these concepts have been defined in other laws.
Article 92 of the PRC Security Law provides that real property refers to land, building, standing timber and other fixtures affixed to land;
personal property refers to all properties other than the real property.