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Beijing probes company claiming to sell land on moon
www.chinaview.cn 2005-10-27 15:39:20

Related story: Aiming for the moon? You can get a piece of it    

    BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- The Beijing Municipal Administration of Industry and Commerce has stepped into the probe of a local company, registered early last month, claiming to sell land on moon.

    The administration is working together with its Chaoyang District Branch, other concerned departments and legal experts to study and collect evidence on whether the company's businesses are legitimate, the Beijing News reported on Thursday.

    The administration found that the company, the Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Co., Ltd. with domestic financing, was registered on Sept. 5 to do businesses covering space travel, development of the moon and sales of land of moon.

    With a registered capital of 10 million yuan (1.23 million US dollars), the company has actually turned in only 100,000 yuan, a source with the administration was quoted as saying by the Beijing News.

    Previously, the Chaoyang District Branch of the Beijing Municipal Administration of Industry and Commerce claimed that sale of land on the moon was not listed as the company's business when it was registered, according to early reports by the paper.

    The Xiaoguan sub-branch of the Chaoyang District branch has launched an investigation into the legitimacy of the company's practice. The Xiaoguan sub-branch found that the company, the so-called Lunar Embassy in China, claimed to be the sole agent in China for US-based Lunar Embassy, but it could not provide any materials which are put on record in the United States and only an authorization certificate by the US company.

    Staff with the municipal administration said that it is a kind of "special practice" to sell land on the moon and legal experts have different views.

    The so-called Lunar Embassy in China, through which one can purchase an acre on the moon for 298 yuan (37 US dollars), started operation on Oct. 19.

    The Lunar Embassy will issue customers a "certificate" that ensures property ownership including rights to use the land and minerals up to three kilometers underground, Li Jie, chief executive officer of the company was quoted as saying by the China Daily several days ago.

    "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 thinks a loophole in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty which 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," Hope was quoted by the China Daily as saying.

    And there appears to be at least some moonstruck people in China. According to Li, with the Lunar Embassy in China, several hundreds telephone orders were received in the past few days.

    At the same time, not all believe that the trading is legal and some even regard it as fraud or a joke.

    "It's ridiculous! The moon belongs to the whole mankind and how can a company sell it," said a man surnamed Xu, who works at a media group in Beijing. Enditem

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