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The Foreign NGO Law

More Pieces of the Puzzle

On January 1, 2017, China’s new Foreign NGO Management Law will go into effect, changing the landscape for foreign individuals and organizations working in China. At ChinaSource we are working hard to monitor the situation and track new developments.

While there is still much that is unknown about the implementation of the law, some new documents have been released that begin to address this question.

A full official translation of the law is now available on the website of the Ministry of Public Security. The text of the law is preceded by a declaration from President Xi Jinping:

Order of the President of the People’s Republic of China
No. 44

The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations in the Mainland of China, adopted at the 20th Meeting of the 12th Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on April 28, 2016, is hereby promulgated and shall come into force on January 1, 2017.

Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
28, 2016

It doesn’t get any more official than that!

What the law itself lacks is specific guidelines and regulations on how it is to be implemented. As has been noted previously, foreign NGOs will be required to register with a government “supervisory unit” and with the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). But it doesn’t say what supervisory units have the authority to do the registering or what the procedures are. That was left up to the MPS.

On November 11, China Law Translate posted an unofficial translation of a document that begins to address some of these implantation issues. The document is called Handbook For Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations' Registration Of Representative Offices And Filing Of Temporary Activities. Here is the introduction to the translation:

Based on the relevant provisions of the Law on the Management of the Activities of Foreign Non-governmental Organizations within the Mainland Territory of the People’s Republic of China, this Handbook is formulated to provide convenient services to foreign non-governmental organizations (hereafter referred to as FNGOs) registering representative offices or filing to carry out temporary activities within the mainland territory of China.

The post also includes links to nine different forms to be used for registration and filing. Please note, however, that they have not yet been translated, and rather than directing you to a site, they actually download as Word documents. According to the handbook, these forms will need to authenticated and notarized, so it is not just a matter of downloading and then filling them out.

The original Chinese document can be found here, on the Ministry of Public Security website.

On November 30 China Daily published a story referencing these new guidelines:

In the guideline, the ministry lists the qualifications and procedures for NGOs to register or to close their offices as well as the documents needed for an annual review of their operation.

According to the provisions, overseas NGOs must be legitimately established outside the Chinese mainland and be able to bear civil liability independently, and they must have operated for at least two years before applying to set up an office on the mainland.

Also required for registration are the organization's charter, the source of its funding and its planned location on the mainland. Additionally, the organization's chief representative in China must not have a criminal record.

While registering, an overseas NGO should specify the region where it plans to conduct activities in China, either within a single provincial-level region or across more than one such region. The area should be in line with its scope of business and actual needs, the guideline says.

These guidelines provide clarity for step one (filling in the forms), as well as step three (registering with the MPS). Step two remains unaddressed, however, since there is still no list of approved supervisory units. In other words, organizations planning to register can (should) begin getting their documentation in order, but it is still unknown to whom the documents should be submitted.

Stay tuned…

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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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