Property rights tested in Suzhou

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The struggle between property owners and developers is an old tale, but one that has become ever more contentious, and exciting to watch, here in China with the recent passage of the controversial property law.  While that law is set to come into effect Oct. 1, 2007, there has been no end to interesting stories coming out of the middle kingdom lately regarding property rights. The most recent has been a fascinating series on the This is China blog covering the attempts by apartment owners to stop a developer from building more apartment units at the Lakeview Apartments in Suzhou.

In Suzhou, Bill Dodson writes:

I did think it was rather odd that at 10pm on a Thursday night a large red banner about three meters across should unfurl down my living room patio view of Lake Jinji, in Suzhou. But I had at this point become accustomed to the protest tactics owners of apartments at the Lakeview compound had adopted to thwart the Singaporean realestate developer.

He continues to explain how in the morning when most of the residents of the compound had left and gone to work, workers employed by the developer arrived and began constructing a wall around the piece of property in question.

The parking lot was empty but for a few cars. The plan was clear: the Developers were going to build a wall that was going to carve out the land they wanted to build on while the apartment owners – ostensibly holders of the land lease, as well – were off busily at work.

I went outside to read the banner the owners had unrolled across my view of the lake. The banner stretched down almost twenty floors to the ground from the top floor. A lot of people had acquiesced to have their views blocked; not just on one side, but on two faces of the high rise. The jist of the banners was the owners preferred dying to preserve the sanctity of their homes rather than give over to the Developers.

The rest of the entry reads like a dispatch from war, as Dodson gives a electrifying account of the pitched battle between the apartment owners and the builders of the wall. This story will continue to develop and is worth keeping an eye on.

As for the new property law, China Briefing examined it in May. China will keep its socialist economic ownership system and the owner has the right to possess, dispose of and obtain profit from their real or movable property.

3-types of property

China distinguishes and protects three types of property equally – state, collective and private property. Any infringement trough units or individuals are strictly prohibited and will be punished.

  • State owned property: There are certain properties that are stipulated to be owned from the state. These are for example Mineral resources, waters, see areas and the urban lands. In addition, rural land and land on the outskirts of cities are owned by the state. Further all natural resources – mountains, forests, grassland, beaches and unclaimed land and as well as wild animals and plants – if not collectively owned, are state owned. No foreign investor will enjoy property rights here.
  • Collectively owned property: Collectively owned property refers to buildings, production devices, water power facilities and education, science, culture facilities in regards to education, science, culture, health.
  • Privately owned property: The law further consolidates protection for private property – m

Fortifying protection of private property

The law, conforming to constitutional principles, further consolidates protection for private property – movable and real property. There a provisions on ownership of salaries, condominiums and parking lots. Specified is the relationship between property management service providers and home-owners.