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May 17, 2019

Are Foreign NGO Donations to Domestic Chinese Organizations Subject to the Foreign NGO Law?

Are foreign NGO donations to domestic Chinese organizations subject to the Foreign NGO Law?


Guidance provided by Beijing Normal University’s Charity Law Center states that foreign NGOs wishing to donate funds to an activity or program taking place in China—even one held by another foreign NGO—must do so through a temporary activity filing. This guidance appears to only apply to foreign NGOs without representative offices in China, however; groups that have established representative offices will use their annual activity plan to report any anticipated transfer of funds to domestic NGOs during the upcoming plan year. In either case, however, foreign NGOs’ donations to domestic NGOs are subject to the Foreign NGO Law.

The Charity Law Center further clarifies that domestic NGOs may accept donations from foreign NGOs as long as such a donation does not violate Article 32 of the Foreign NGO Law (per China Law Translate): “Units and individuals in mainland China must not accept retention, funding, agency, or covert agency to carry out foreign NGOs’ activities in mainland China, from foreign NGOs that have not registered a representative office or filed to carry out temporary activities.”

However, the MPS itself has not issued formal written guidance on the subject of foreign NGO donations to domestic Chinese NGOs.

According to the NGOs in China blog’s summary of guidance provided by the Ministry of Public Security at a 2016 Q&A session, foreign corporate foundations funding corporate social responsibility activities in China may not give money directly to Chinese entities. Instead, they must “transfer funds to an affiliate corporation or contracting third-party corporation offshore and have that corporation fund its Chinese partner for charity activities.”

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