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Mar
20

Overseas NGOs in China: Left in Legal Limbo

The Diplomat published an article online titled, “Overseas NGOs in China: Left in Legal Limbo.” The article reads in part as follows;

“China’s controversial new law on foreign non-governmental organizations (NGO) has been in force only a few months – and it’s already heavily impacting and hindering operations by NGOs in the country. Since January 1, foreign NGOs, including foundations, advocacy groups, and business chambers, have had to register with the police and link up with an officially approved Chinese partner or “professional supervisory unit.” But so far, only three dozen organizations, who had been registered under other labels before the law came into effect, have been able to complete the cumbersome process, among them the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and some business chambers, for example those of Russia, India, and Canada.

Many other foreign NGOs, especially those working in political sensitive areas like legal advocacy or political education, are left in legal limbo – and suddenly find themselves unable to pay their Chinese employees, access their Chinese bank accounts, or secure visa extensions for their foreign staff.

A round table discussion with a dozen or so mainly German NGOs in January – among them private and political foundations and church-related development agencies – revealed an array of obstacles that delay registration with the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and the severe consequences for those waiting to complete the process. Under these circumstances, even mundane tasks can turn into all but impossible feats: Just to get an official to pick up the phone at the ministry can prove tricky, let alone finding one who can explain in detail the regulations under the new law. The website of the Bureau for the Management of Overseas NGOs under the MPS still lacks an English version, and accessing it is an “insecure connection,” as some browsers warn.

The haphazard and fragmented way the new law is implemented seems to suggest a deliberate attempt to make life difficult for at least some international organizations operating in China. In fact, many foreign NGOs that operated in a legal grey area before the new law took effect are now being pushed into outright illegality.”

Click here to continue reading the article.

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