The People's Republic of Ownership
In a move that probably has Chairman Mao spinning in his glass coffin, the Chinese politburo voted on March 14 to recognize the private property rights of businesses and individuals. The move is seen as mostly symbolic, codifying the economic reforms that transformed the country from command economy to entrepreneurial powerhouse over the past two decades. Micah Truman, the American-born founder of Madeforchina, a Beijing marketing firm, says he never lost sleep over property rights -- though the lack of the rule of law vexed him in other ways. "When I founded my company seven years ago, signatures and paper were of little use -- it was relationships that counted," Truman recalls. "But even that is changing. Nowadays, contracts are the name of the game." Thus, foreign entrepreneurs and investors continue to flock to China. Last year alone, the government handed out 41,081 approvals for the establishment of foreign direct-invested enterprises.