BEIJING, Oct. 20 -- China may be years away from a lunar landing but one
company is offering a piece of "land" there right now.
The so-called Lunar Embassy, through which one can purchase an acre on the
moon for 298 yuan (US$37), started operations yesterday in Beijing.
Li Jie, chief executive officer of Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics
Science Co Ltd, said his company is the sole agent in China for US-based Lunar
The area? Between 20 and 24 degrees latitude north and 30 to 34 degrees
longitude west, the company says.
Lunar Embassy will issue customers a "certificate" that ensures property
ownership including rights to use the land and minerals up to 3 kilometres
underground, Li said.
"We define it as a kind of novelty gift with the potential of unlimited
increase in value," said Li, who was nominated as the agent in China by Dennis
Hope, a US entrepreneur who founded the first extraterrestrial estate agency
Lunar Embassy in 1980, 11 years after the Apollo II mission first landed people
on the moon.
Hope, self-anointed "Head Cheese" of the Lunar Embassy, thinks a loophole
in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty makes his property sales legitimate. The
agreement forbids governments from owning extraterrestrial property, but fails
to mention corporations or individuals.
"I have 3.5 million customers including ex-US presidents Ronald Reagan,
Jimmy Carter and movie stars who have purchased land on the moon," said Hope at
a press conference yesterday in Beijing. China is the eighth country to have a
Lunar Embassy after the United States, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New
Zealand and Japan, he said.
And there appear to be at least some moonstruck people in China Li told
reporters that he had received more than 400 telephone orders in the past few
Meanwhile, not all believe that the trading is legal; and some even regard
it as fraud or a joke.
"It is sheer speculation," said Xia Xueluan, a sociologist with the Peking
University, adding that many countries are speeding up research on lunar
exploration, but no single person has the entity right to own property.
Besides, the Chaoyang District branch of Beijing's Administration for
Industry and Commerce has launched an investigation into the company, according
to media reports.
The Chaoyang bureau staff said sale of land on the moon was not listed as
the company's business when it was registered, and they would consult space and
aeronautic authorities on laws or regulations before they rule on the legitimacy
of the company's practice, reported Beijing News.
Li counters by saying that his company was registered on September 5 after
finishing all necessary commercial and industrial registration procedures.
He also told reporters that Lunar Embassy had contacted the Chinese Society
of Astronautics, which is the only national organization of its kind in China,
to seek co-operation.
But an official with the society denied the assertion.
"We did contact the company but decided not to continue with the matter
because we believe purchasing lunar land is not feasible," said the official who
did not want to be identified.
(Source: China Daily)