China's top legislature on Friday began to discuss the sweeping property bill for a rare sixth time. If voted by the National People's Congress's full session next March, the bill will be the country's first specific law to protect private ownership.
Following are some key events in the property bill saga:
Early 1990s -- The idea of a property law was brewing among China's lawmakers who were urged to create a new set of laws compatible with a market economy after the country abandoned the planned economy approach.
April 1998 -- Li Peng, then China's top legislator, called for quick drafting of the property law, company law, security law and other regulations to ensure smooth operation of the market economy.
December 23, 2002 -- As part of the draft civil code, the property bill was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for first review.
March 14, 2004 -- China's top legislature passed an amendment to the constitution which enshrined the rights of private ownership. It made the drafting of the property bill easier and faster.
October 22, 2004 -- The property bill was submitted to the top legislature for a second reading.
June 26, 2005 -- After adding more clauses defining and protecting individual property, the property bill was submitted for a third reading.
July 10, 2005 -- In a rare case, the top legislature released the full text of the property bill to the general public for their suggestions. A total of 11,543 opinions were collected in 40 days.
August 2005 -- Gong Xiantian, a jurisprudence professor at Beijing University, posted an open letter on the internet, claiming the property bill neglects the protection of state property and could undermine China's socialist foundation.
Gong's comments stirred debate among legal experts and the general public, with other people contending that the draft did not give individuals sufficient rights.
October 2005 -- After being revised in the light of suggestions from the public, the bill was submitted to the legislature for a fourth reading. Wu Bangguo, China's top legislator, chaired the panel discussion of the law during the legislative session of the Standing Committee of NPC.
March 2006 -- The bill was withdrawn from the NPC agenda because legislators were still very divided about the bill.
August 22, 2006 -- The bill was submitted for a fifth reading after drafters added a clause saying equal protection should be afforded to both state and private property and added measures to prevent the loss of state assets due to poor management of state-owned firms.
October 27, 2006 -- An unprecedented sixth reading by the Standing Committee of NPC meant that the bill had undergone more reviews than any other bill in the NPC's history. The equal protection of state and private property was enshrined in the bill's main principle.