It legalises the possession of stolen assets, critics claim Opponents of the latest incarnation of the mainland's proposed Property Law are trying to marshal support for a petition urging the National People's Congress Standing Committee to drop what they describe as unconstitutional elements from the bill. Former National Bureau of Statistics chief Li Chengrui and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences economics professor Zuo Dapei told a gathering in Beijing on Sunday that the bill - the sixth draft of the proposed legislation in seven years - was unconstitutional and aimed to legalise the possession of stolen assets. The committee endorsed the controversial property rights law in October, raising expectations that the draft legislation would be passed by the NPC next year. According to one of the bill's drafters, the proposed legislation seeks to retain the mainland's focus on public ownership while underscoring the equal need to protect private assets. But at Sunday's meeting, organised by the left-wing website Utopia, over 100 people, including students and petitioners campaigning for better land compensation payouts, applauded critics of the bill and many signed the petition. Professor Zuo said he did not oppose the idea of the Property Law, but disputed its definition of ownership in an era of runaway privatisation of state assets. 'The bill says it will equally protect all owners. But the question is whether one can be regarded as an owner. Can someone be called an owner of what he seized illegally?' Professor Zuo said there was a greater urgency for legislation to protect state-owned assets. 'When there are no state-owned assets some day, there will be no need for a law on state-owned assets. 'Now state-owned assets can be disposed of arbitrarily, allowing some people to take the assets, own them and then get protection for that ownership.' Professor Zuo said even if the draft was passed, he would continue working to amend the law. Mr Li said the draft did not specify that private assets must be obtained legally. 'The draft must draw a line between legal and illegal private assets. It is likely that illegally gained assets would be invested in legal companies to launder money.' Mr Li said the bill also abandoned the sanctity of public-owned assets enshrined in the constitution and its lack of protection against the loss of state-owned assets 'hollowed the fundamental socialist economic system', putting supporters on 'the capitalist road'. But one of the drafters of the legislation, Wang Liming, said the protection of various types of ownership was crystal clear when the legislative body started drafting it and the opposition was coming from only a few people. Yin Tian from Peking University said the protection of state-owned assets should be realised through administrative means or criminal law. 'Property law as a civil law only defines civil obligations,' Professor Yin said.