China | Transparency or control? China 'clarifies' foreign NGO law
The new law will affect foreign NGOs such as the Red Cross. Photo: AFP
The new law will affect foreign NGOs such as the Red Cross. Photo: AFP

Transparency or control? China ‘clarifies’ foreign NGO law

Organizations will have to show where their funding comes from. Critics say the law's ambiguity will allow Beijing to thwart activities it dislikes

November 30, 2016 5:10 PM (UTC+8)

Beijing has reiterated that foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China will have to provide details of where their funding comes from and evidence that their chief representatives have no criminal record in new rules due to come into effect next year.

Western governments have lambasted the country’s new foreign NGO law, which was passed in April, saying it treats the groups as a criminal threat and would effectively force many out of the country.

Guidelines seeking to clarify the new rules, released by the Ministry of Public Security on Monday and reported by state media on Wednesday, say that foreign NGOs must be “legitimately established” outside mainland China and have operated for at least two years before applying to set up an office.

To register, NGOs will have to provide their charter and proof of the source of their funds, and also show that their heads in China have no criminal record, the ministry said.

The organisations will have to specify where they want to work geographically in China, but that must be in line with their “scope of business and actual needs.”

Chinese officials defend the foreign NGO law, saying it will only be used to punish law-breaking organizations.

Rights groups say the law’s use of an ambiguous ban on activities that threaten national security or endanger social stability could be used to target groups doing work disliked by the ruling Communist Party.

(Reuters)

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