News that nearly three dozen foreign NGOs had successfully registered under the new Overseas NGO Law sounded an optimistic note for organizations working in China. Yet, as a recent article in The Diplomat points out, this apparent gain for the overseas NGO community masks the greater realities facing foreign groups as they weigh their options under the new law.
Even though there was no law governing their operation in China until January 1, foreign NGOs have been operating in China for quite some time. Typically, they were either registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs or operated with the approval of provincial or local officials. The new law now requires all NGOs to register with the Ministry of Public Security.
Earlier this month I wrote a post on the “why” behind China’s new overseas NGO law, which put the law into the larger political context of China. For a closer look at how the law was actually formulated, I recommend Shawn Shieh’s excellent piece, “The Origins of China’s New Law on Foreign NGOs,” which traces the evolution of NGO policy from the late 1980s up to the present.