In an official document dated late July, the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions, the city’s branch of the country’s official, Party-affiliated trade union, outlined the major themes of its work going forward, including preventing “enemy infiltration” alongside its work in managing foreign NGOs. The document’s articles discussing foreign NGOs strongly suggest that international organizations, at least in the labor sector, are viewed primarily as a national security, rather than a civil society, issue. Though the...Read more

What Does Charity Mean in China?

Despite the Charity Law’s Definition, the Answer Is Still Elusive
China’s Charity Law effectually governs a broad universe of non-profits while refusing to define essential terms. And, of course, organizations the government regards as sensitive—including some religious, political, human rights, and other independent associations of particular segments of civil society—will not be permitted to register despite likely compliance with the law. But what does it mean, under the Charity Law, for an activity to be “charitable”? Though the Charity Law for the first time provides...Read more

Chinese Partner Units: Who (and Where) Are They?

When considering the impact of the Foreign NGO Law, we often think first of the foreign NGOs themselves—who they are, and where they’re able to gain approval to carry out work in China. Yet, for foreign NGOs carrying out temporary activities in China, Chinese Partner Units (CPUs) are critical players whose organizational structure, location, and capacity affect what activities will be possible. Notably, it is CPUs, and not foreign NGOs, that actually submit temporary activity...Read more
How common is it for a temporary activity to cover multiple provinces? Are some provincial Public Security Bureaus (PSBs) more likely to allow cross-provincial activities than others? How many of all the temporary activities are just being done by a few big organizations? Are we seeing a drop-off in organizations filing for temporary activities, or in organizations deciding not to come back after holding one or two? Are groups able to successfully “renew” their year-long...Read more
Establishing operations in Taiwan wasn’t the most logical option for international organizations whose missions demanded they be on the ground to engage with the challenging but dynamic “wild west” of civil society work in the P.R.C. Could the Foreign NGO Law alter this status quo?Read more