Law & Policy

Beijing Netcom Again Sued For Discriminating Against Migrant Population

A lawyer has sued Beijing Netcom, a subsidiary of China Netcom (CN), in Beijing Xicheng District People's Court for discrimination in how the Netcom provides services to consumers.

The lawyer, who local media report is surnamed Cheng, is asking Beijing Netcom to declare the invalidity of some of its service contract clauses and to make an public apology to him.

Cheng says he went to Beijing Netcom's Yayuncun Business Hall to apply for prepaid fixed phone service in July this year when he was told by Beijing Netcom that he must have someone who has a Beijing Hukou and good payment record to sponsor his application.

Believing that Beijing Netcom's service clauses that divide consumers into two categories, Locals and Migrants, are against the Consumer Law and Contract Law which both advocate equality between consumers and service providers, Cheng felt he had to take his case to court.

Cheng's case is pending and a decision should be reached soon.

This is the second time that Beijing Netcom has been sued for discriminating against migrant workers.

Legendary consumer advocate Wang Hai lost his case against Beijing Netcom in September. Beijing Xicheng District People's Court ruled in Netcom's favor and said the company has the right to ask for upfront payment from non-Beijing residents and migrant workers. Wang Hai accused China Netcom of discriminating against non-Beijing residents by asking for a prepaid fee from them for fixed-line phone installations.

In China, ciitzens have a "hukou" which makes them a resident of a particular city. When a non-resident wants to use government or private commercial services, they often must go through more obstacles than normal residents of a particular area to have those goods.

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