We regularly update this list of questions with information drawn from Chinese law, official statements, and our interviews about NGOs’ on-the-ground experiences

Are Foreign NGOs Allowed to Generate Income?

Articles 5 and 45 of the Foreign NGO Law suggest that foreign NGOs may not engage in “for-profit activities.” However, according to the NGOs in China blog’s summary of guidance provided by the Ministry of Public Security at a 2016 Q&A session, “Article 21 [of the law] permits foreign NGOs to use ‘other funds legally acquired within China’ for their activities in China. This means income or revenue is allowed as long as the foreign...Read more
In conversation with The China NGO project, multiple NGOs have expressed confusion about the exact documentation required to satisfy the requirement for “proof of funding” (“资金来源证明材料”) when filing for a temporary activity. We are unaware of detailed written guidance on this point, and different foreign NGOs have reported supplying different documentation.Most recently, one NGO said it provided the following as part of its successful filing for a temporary activity:A recent bank statement that showed: a)...Read more

Can a Foreign NGO pay for services from a for-profit Chinese entity?

Though the Foreign NGO Law forbids foreign NGOs from partnering with for-profit organizations for activities, may foreign NGOs contract with for-profit entities for certain services?
The Ministry of Public Security has not issued official written guidance on this point. According to officials with specific knowledge of the law’s implementation, foreign NGOs may purchase “reasonable” services from for-profit Chinese entities. This might include, for example, hiring a company to help make arrangements for an upcoming meeting. However, the foreign NGO may not use this mechanism to make “covert grants.” Whether or not the purchased services are “reasonable” is up to the...Read more
According to one source, a Ministry of Public Security (MPS) representative said that foreign staff of foreign NGOs seeking to register a representative office may enter China on tourist or short-term business visas. Once the representative office is registered, foreign staff should apply for work permits.Read more

What Is Considered “Fundraising”?

The Ministry of Public Security has not offered clear guidance on this point. Notably, an earlier draft of the Foreign NGO Law forbade “accept[ing] donations from within Mainland China.” The final version of the Law says only that foreign NGOs and their representative offices may not fundraise within mainland China.Read more