Many countries have started to react to China buying up land at a rapid rate in nations around the world, fearing that their intentions are nefarious. Some countries like Canada and Australia have taken action and now the state of Texas is joining the chorus.
A Texas bill has been introduced in the Texas Senate known as Senate Bill 147 that would make it illegal for Chinese citizens to buy any property in Texas, including homes. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has tweeted, “I will sign it.”
Although the ban will not apply to American citizens of Chinese or Asian decent, China has lashed out. China’s Foreign Ministry says such a move would violate the principles of a market economy and international trade rules. “Generalizing the concept of national security and politicising economic, trade and investment issues violate the rules of market economy and international trade rules,” spokesperson Mao Ning said during a press briefing.
There is only one problem with China’s angry reaction to the Texas bill – Chinese citizens cannot own property in their own country.
China is a Communist country, so all land is owned by the ‘people,’ which is code for the government. Private citizens can purchase the right to buy property, but in many ways it is more of a lease than real ownership.
According to LEHMAN, LEE & XU, widely regarded as one of the largest and most prominent law firms in China, “Because China is a socialist country, all land is either subject to government ownership or collective ownership.”
With offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, LEHMAN, LEE & XU are all too familiar with the strong restrictions on Chinese citizens buying land. They also firmly point out that foreigners are prohibited from buying property and can only do so by finding a citizen that is willing to partner with them. “When setting up a foreign invested enterprise, it is usually the Chinese partner that contributes land use rights. In such a situation it is of fundamental importance that FIEs ensure that the company acquires a granted land-use right, because the Chinese partner cannot dispose of allocated land.”
China is very keen to play on words and terminology that sound very similar to international law, but are purposefully distorted to fit their needs. It is important for Christians to know the difference.
On paper, property ownership rights are protected under China’s Article 39 of The Property Law of the People’s Republic of China, which match with the international standard.
In many ways, property law Article 39 can be compared to Article 36, which protects religious freedom for all citizens. Article 36 clearly states, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No State organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The State protects normal religious activities.”
Unfortunately, though the wording in the Chinese constitution might seem up to international standard, it is not. Far from it. Just as Chinese citizens are not afforded real property ownership, they are also not afforded true religious freedom.
Whether allowing Chinese citizens to purchase property in Texas is a good or bad thing is for the people of Texas to decide, but maybe it would be a good idea for the government of China to allow their own citizens to purchase property first, before attacking Texas?