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Complicated procedures hinder groups from obtaining licenses
Less than 3 percent of US non-governmental organizations operating in China have registered with the civil affairs authorities, a report revealed on Friday.
The low rate of registration - which gives legal identity - has hindered the sustainable development of US NGOs in China, according to a report by the China Charity and Donation Information Center.
There were about 1,000 US NGOs in China, but only 23 had legal status from civil affairs departments by the end of 2009, the report said.
Without a license, these organizations risk being banned from operating in China.
Deng Guosheng, a professor specializing in NGO studies at the school of public policy and management at Tsinghua University, said regulations specify how international foundations can register in China, but they do not apply to NGOs such as membership associations and nonprofit service providers.
In China, NGOs must be affiliated with a government department willing to shoulder the risk for their operation as a precondition for registration, Deng said, so it's more difficult for international NGOs to register with civil affairs departments.
Niu Caixia, assistant to the representative in the Ford Foundation China, told China Daily on Friday that her organization initially registered with the industry and commerce authorities.
The foundation's license expired in 2008, Niu said, and while it has applied to the Ministry of Civil Affairs for registration, its approval is still pending.
"The procedure to register with the civil affairs authorities is more complicated as we have to prepare extensive documentation," she said.
Without registering, NGOs cannot enjoy tax cuts or raise funds from the public in China.
Given that the majority of international NGOs have not registered in China, the report noted, the government cannot effectively regulate the industry.
It said that such a situation will hurt the long-term development of international NGOs in China.
The report estimated that US NGOs have donated more than 20 billion yuan ($3.18 billion) in China since the country launched its opening-up policy in the late 1970s.
About 82 percent of the funds went to universities, scientific institutions and government organs, the report said.
Only 17 percent of the donations flowed to the nonprofit sector, including 8 percent for grassroots organizations.
Liu Youping, deputy head of the China Charity and Donation Information Center and co-author of the report, believed that international NGOs will pour more resources into grassroots organizations as those organizations have gradually grown stronger and more professional.