National security? China ready to slam door on foreign NGOs.

New law would allow Beijing to filter out foreign funding of groups that support free expression and civil society.

By Peter Ford

The Christian Science Monitor

Beijing — After years of operating in a precarious legal limbo, foreign non-governmental organizations in China are facing a moment of truth that could force many of them to close their doors.

The Chinese government is drafting a new foreign NGO law that is widely expected to make work more difficult, if not impossible, for many of the 6,000 overseas non-profits that operate here in a broad range of fields from education and the environment to HIV-Aids and legal education.

Under the new law, foreign non-profits would not be allowed to open more than one office, or to raise funds locally, or be allowed to fund projects deemed counter to what is being called “Chinese society’s moral customs,” according to excerpts seen by The Christian Science Monitor of the still unpublished bill.

“It will be a new world if the law goes through as it is written now,” says Anthony Spires of the Center for Civil Society Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who has seen an early draft of the bill. “There will be a lot more layers of control and opportunities for the government to say no” to NGO projects.

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