Blog Entries

Draft NGO Law

A Roundup of Reactions


In April, the Chinese government made available for comment the draft of a proposed Foreign NGO Management Law, which, if enacted as is, could significantly impact the work of foreign NGOs currently operating in China.

In the weeks since the draft was published, there’s been much discussion and analysis of the implications of this proposed law. Below is a roundup of some of the best pieces I’ve seen on the subject (so far).

China Law and Policy Blog founder Elizabeth Lynch produced an excellent and in-depth three-part series with her analysis of the law. In "A Slow Death? China’s Draft Foreign NGO Management Law," she shows how the law will completely alter the way NGOs operate in China.

Her second post is titled "The Future is Already Present? How the Draft Foreign NGO Management Law Could be Applied," In it she looks at some specific ways in which the law may restrict foreign NGOs operating in China (and their Chinese partners), arguing that the recent detention of feminist protesters and the prosecution of Guo Yushun and He Zhengjun (liberal think tank founders) offer a glimpse into how the security forces may use such a law. She also argues that the law could make seemingly small-scale projects, like educational exchanges, difficult.

In her third piece, "One Love: How Foreign NGOs & Governments Should Respond to China’s Draft Foreign NGO Law," she urges NGOs that will be affected to offer their comments on the law.

The good people at China File put together an excellent Conversation post titled "The Future of NGOs in China." They asked participants to “comment on whether the law is likely to be enacted and if it were enacted, what that would mean for both foreign and Chinese NGOs, think tanks, and academic exchanges, as well as for philanthropy and civil society in China more broadly.” The eight responses are from Isabel Hilton, Carl Minzner, Teng Biao, Zhou Dan, Nick Young, Malin Oud, and Taisu Zhang.

ChinaSource President Brent Fulton weighed in last week with a piece titled "A New Day for Foreign NGOs", noting that the proposed law reflects the tension between legitimization and control:

The Party has been vacillating for some time between acknowledging the legitimate role of NGOs and seeking to control them. This piece of legislation, assuming it is passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, would appear to represent the regime’s attempt to strike a balance, although, as would be expected in the current political climate, it comes down squarely on the side of control.

Finally, China Law Translate has put together a very thorough "Cheatsheet for Understanding the FNGO Law," which goes line by line through the law, offering definitions, explanations, and comments.

If your field is NGO work in China, these are all must-reads.

Image credit: Tian’anmen, by Jean Wang, via Flickr

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio


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