China will revise laws and policies to encourage the development of foreign
and domestic non-governmental organizations (NG0s), a senior official has been
quoted as saying.
Among the key changes are a simplified registration procedure for all NGOs
and better communication with governments, said Sun Weilin, director of the
bureau for NGO administration affiliated to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
A foundation will also be set up to recognize and reward NGOs with good
"The ministry is drawing up a detailed draft for revising laws and
regulations, with the main objective of giving more room for NGOs to grow," Sun
told China Business News.
He was speaking
at a recent ceremony where the European Union and the United Nations Development
Programme signed an agreement to support a large-scale initiative aimed at
strengthening the rule of law and enhancing civil society participation in
China. The program will be implemented by the National People's Congress, the
Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
"If the registration procedure is simplified for domestic NGOs and foreign
NGOs can register as NGOs, it will make it easier for them to operate and raise
funds for their programs," Li Jianghua, the deputy representative of the China
branch of Handicap International, told China Business News.
Experts said the changes will create a better legal framework for foreign
NGOs to have a wider presence in China and provide a platform for better
coordination with government agencies.
"The government is moving in the right direction," said Jia Xijin, an
the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, who pointed
out that regulations need to be revised to make it easier for NGOs to register.
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government's continuing tight grip on NGOs appears increasingly out of
sync.For example, the requirement that all NGOs be affiliated with an
official institution so as to be registered and operate legally is a
regular target of complaint.
She said the current Regulations on the Registration of Social Organizations,
promulgated in 1998, have no provision covering foreign NGOs, leaving them in
"Foreign NGOs operate in China but their presence has no legal basis, which
makes it impossible for them to recruit members or raise funds," Jia said.
As a result, the China operations of some foreign NGOs, including the World
Wild Fund for Nature, have been registered as commercial organizations and thus
cannot raise funds or recruit volunteers. They also have to pay taxes.
Jia also told China Daily that the unfavorable policy environment has become
a major bottleneck for the development of domestic NGOs.
They have to find a government-authorized institution as its "responsible
professional institution" to secure registration - which is often cumbersome or
Jia urged the government to waive the registration procedures for grassroots
NGOs without much funding. "Such NGOs are the foundation of social development
and harmony," Jia said.
Liu Kaiming, dean of an institute focusing on training and helping migrant
workers, said he was glad the government was taking concrete steps to create a
favorable environment for NGOs.
According to figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the country had
about 354,000 NGOs by the end of 2006 but Jia estimated the actual number at
more than 1 million.
(China Daily 05/25/2007 page1)