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November 7, 2018

Civil Society Space Changing, Not Shrinking: Report

Berthold Kuhn of Freie Universitat Berlin has published a new paper looking at “Changing Spaces for Civil Society Organisations in China.” This framework explicitly pushes back against the notion that civil society space is uniformly shrinking, instead positing that the space available is highly dependent on the individual organization and the type of work it seeks to do:

Concerns about shrinking spaces for civil society organisations have risen in China over the past years, in particular among international nonprofit organisations . . . Assessments on shrinking or changing spaces for civil society in China much depend on the type of organisations in focus. This paper pays attention to discourses related to NGO development in China and sheds light on changing spaces for different types of nonprofits in China, those that are negatively affected by new regulations and different kinds of restrictions and those benefiting from emerging opportunities in the context of growing cooperation with the government or the business sector. Analysis based on interviews and talks with experts in China and abroad shows that advocacy-oriented organisations and those receiving foreign funding tend to face more difficulties. Larger international nonprofits with a long track-record in China, however, are seen to continuing or even expanding their activities.

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