Petitioners seek end to sell-off of state assets

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 February, 2007, 12:00am

About 3,000 people, including former high-ranking officials and members of Communist Party think-tanks, signed an open letter to the National People's Congress and the Politburo over the weekend calling for an end to the privatisation of state-owned assets.

The open letter came after Li Rongrong, chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said earlier that the commission would focus on ownership and assets supervision this year.

According to Xinhua, Mr Li said the commission would improve supervision of state-owned assets, including draft regulations on state-owned shares of listed companies and overseas companies owned by mainland enterprises.

Mr Li's speech and the open letter come ahead of the National People's Congress next month, which will approve the controversial Property Law.

The petition letter is signed by three former provincial party secretaries and several former mayors. There are also 51 professors from the Central Communist Party School, the party's think-tank.

It did not mention the Property Law draft, but one of the letter drafters, Peking University's law professor Gong Xiantian, said the opposition to the law and to the privatisation of state-owned assets had the same goal.

Opponents of the law, aimed at protecting both the public and private sector, say it would legitimise privatisation of state-owned assets gained through illegal means and undermine the socialist system.

'We are more concerned about the nature of our economic system - and that's the fundamental issue here,' Professor Gong said.

The petition letter said government officials often sold state-owned assets cheaply and some were privatised through methods such as management buyouts. It lamented the sharp drop in assets owned by the state.

The letter called on the NPC to introduce a law that would charge anyone who privatised state assets and requiring officials to reveal assets they and their relatives owned.