Public Regulation of Private Relations

Changing Conditions of Property Regulation in China

Pitman B. Potter

The development of property rights in the People’s Republic of China reflects tensions between liberal legal models and socialist principles associated with other areas of China’s socioeconomic and legal development policy. The globalized international discourse of private property ideals associated with liberal capitalism serves as context for understanding legal reform efforts in China.1 In the international liberal discourse of property rights, ideals of efficiency and individual liberty privilege private property discourses of economism and republicanism, and result in the entrenchment of private property into law and popular culture.2 The expansion of these regimes through the process of globalization promotes local acceptance of liberal standards of property law by developing economies even as it invites conflict over assimilation of underlying norms and values. The development of China’s legal regime for protecting property rights reveals dynamics and outcomes of ongoing normative tensions between globalized liberal ideology and local legal and political culture. Challenges also arise around the organizational structures and processes for implementing property rights in China.3

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