Work begins on landmark changes to the constitution The National People's Congress yesterday began the formal procedure for changing the constitution to protect private property rights and human rights. The Communist Party Central Committee also proposed enshrining former president Jiang Zemin's Theory of the Three Represents in the constitution, along with improvements to the mainland's social security system and land acquisition system, Xinhua reported. The proposed amendments to the country's 1982 constitution will be discussed by the Standing Committee of the NPC, China's legislature, at its six-day session starting this week. The amendments will then be put forward for approval at the annual NPC plenary session in March. Approval of the amendments is almost certain as the 77-year-old former president's theory was written into the Communist Party's charter last year and the protection of private property was extensively discussed at the party plenum in October. The amendment on property stipulates that 'private property obtained legally shall not be violated', Xinhua said. 'The proposed revision ... puts private assets of Chinese citizens on an equal footing with public property.' Legal experts have long called for private property rights to be formally endorsed in the constitution as China makes its transition to a market-based economy. Priscilla Leung, associate law professor at City University, said that even though the constitution could not be directly enforced in mainland courts, the amendments would significantly improve the protection of private property rights because the constitution was regarded as a guiding principle in Chinese law. 'It will also be educational [for the cadres] that the nation's highest law is protecting this fundamental right,' she said. The amendment on the Theory of Three Represents said the theory should become 'guiding principles of the nation' along with the ideology of Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Nicolas Becquelin, research director of Human Rights in China, said the inclusion of human rights in the constitution would have no significant impact on the present situation because it had little binding legal authority.