November 9, 2005
Next on sale: the Brooklyn Bridge
The Chinese press has recently had several stories on a company purporting to sell land on the moon. The first story, dated Oct. 20 and from the China Daily, announces the start of operations of the Lunar Embassy (月球大使馆), which sells land for 298 yuan per acre. It adds solemnly, "Meanwhile, not all believe that the trading is legal; and some even regard it as fraud or a joke."
The second story, dated Oct. 27, announces that the Beijing Municipal Administration of Industry and Commerce "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 third story, dated Nov. 7, states the result of the investigation:
A Chinese company has had its license suspended after it tried to make money by selling land on the moon.
The Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Co. managed to sell large swathes of pristine lunar property before being shut down, the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.
It is not known whether the proprietor plans to challenge this administrative decision.
November 7, 2005
Gao Zhisheng's law firm ordered closed for a year
The Washington Post reports (Nov. 6) that activist lawyer Gao Zhisheng's (高智晟) law firm was ordered suspended for a year by the Beijing Judicial Bureau on Nov. 4. The report states in part:
Judicial authorities in Beijing have shut down the law firm of a prominent civil rights lawyer after he refused to withdraw an open letter urging President Hu Jintao to respect freedom of religion and stop persecuting members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Gao Zhisheng, among the most daring of a generation of self-trained lawyers who have been pushing the Chinese government to obey its own laws, said that the Beijing Bureau of Justice ordered his firm suspended for one year on Friday. The move came just hours after he filed an appeal on behalf of an underground Protestant pastor accused of illegally printing Bibles and other Christian literature.
November 6, 2005
Worker vs. cadre status in Chinese labor law
Chinalawinfo.com carries a report from the Morning News (晨报) showing that despite a quarter century of economic reform, the worker/cadre distinction remains important and has real bite. In this case, two women have brought an administrative lawsuit against Beijing's Haidian District Bureau of Labor and Social Insurance (海淀区劳动和社会保障局) for approving their (involuntary) retirement at age 50 from employment at the Xinxing Hotel (新兴宾馆). The retirement age for women of worker status is age 50; for women of cadre status, it's 55. These rules seem to be a holdover from an earlier era where (1) workers did manual labor, and so it was thought protective of female workers to give them earlier retirement, and (2) retirement meant reliable "iron rice bowl" benefits from a state-owned employer in the planned economy, and thus could be seen as a goal to aim for, not an imposition to be avoided. Neither of these premises hold true today; hence the lawsuit.
Two interesting things about this lawsuit:
- The plaintiffs' litigation strategy is to bring an administrative lawsuit against a government agency for approving the allegedly wrongful classification, not against the employer for making the wrongful classification in the first place.
- When I saw the headline for this article, I was expecting to read about a lawsuit for sex discrimination, since the retirement age for men is later. But the plaintiffs seem to have chosen not to make that particular claim. (It would almost certainly lose.)