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May 3, 2018

What Is Considered a “Temporary Activity”?

Do meetings or short trips count? What length of time is considered “temporary”?

There is no formal written Ministry of Public Security (MPS) definition of a temporary activity. This category appears largely to be a mechanism by which the MPS can remain apprised of foreign NGO activity in China, even if a Foreign NGO does not have a permanent presence in the mainland. However, Articles 3 and 5 of the Foreign NGO Law still define the permissible substantive scope of temporary activities:

  • Activities must be in fields such as economics, education, science, culture, health, sports, environment, poverty relief, and disaster relief
  • Activities must not harm China’s national unity, security, ethnic unity, national interests, the public interest, or the lawful rights and interests of citizens, legal persons, and other organizations
  • Activities must not engage in or fund for-profit activities, political activities, or religious activities.

However, officials with specific knowledge of the law's implementation say that three factors may determine whether or not a given activity counts as a “temporary activity”:

  • Is the foreign NGO providing funding for the activity?
  • Will the foreign NGO publicize the event and/or outcomes afterwards?
  • Are any foreign participants acting in the name of a foreign NGO (instead of acting on their own personal behalf)?

It is worth noting that even if a foreign NGO does not provide activity funding, the activity might still be considered a “temporary activity” if the other conditions are met.

Per the Foreign NGO Law, temporary activities have a maximum time limit of one year, though Article 17 of the law suggests that groups may file again to extend the time period of the activity if there is a need do so. More than 280 of the temporary activities filed with the MPS as of April 30, 2017 were between 11 and 12 months in length.

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