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April 19, 2019

People’s Daily Details Cases of Foreign NGOs ‘Endangering Political Security’

The People’s Republic of China’s (P.R.C.’s) most authoritative media outlet, The People’s Daily, published an article on April 19 describing two foreign NGOs as having posed threats to “political security” in recent years. The article, entitled “National Security Entities Make Public Three Cases of Endangering Political Security,” outlines the NGOs’ alleged violations and the ways in which the groups posed a threat to the P.R.C. A third case in the article is related to the banned spiritual group Falun Gong, which it does not directly link to the two foreign NGO cases.

The article first details the case of Peter Dahlin, a Swedish national who used to run a non-profit in China focused on training human rights lawyers and providing legal aid. Dahlin was detained in early 2016 in Beijing and held for several weeks before appearing in a forced televised confession on Chinese state media and deported. According to The People’s Daily, Dahlin’s NGO, known as the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group in China but registered in 2009 in Hong Kong as the Joint Development Institute, accepted “large sums” of money from foreign organizations to do work that “distorted, exaggerated, and even completely fabricated” information for presentation to the international community; its employees were “informants planted in China by Western anti-China forces.”

The article also takes up the case of another foreign NGO, the South Korea-based InterCP, writing that the group has “ceaselessly carried out activities to infiltrate China since 2000,” sending hundreds of professional missionaries “under cover of trade activities, tourism, and study abroad” to provinces including Ningxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Sichuan, and Gansu to “permeate ethnic minority groups in western China as well as students and teachers in colleges and universities.” The article claims that in 2016, InterCP expanded rapidly in China, training thousands of Chinese citizens to serve as missionaries abroad, including two individuals who it “bewitched” into going to Pakistan and who were subsequently kidnapped and killed by extremists there. The article states that public security authorities investigated 66 InterCP employees in 2018 and have issued administrative punishments to 46 of them that prohibits them from re-entering the country for a set period of time.

The People’s Daily report comes just a few days after April 15’s National Security Education Day, first observed in 2015. Last year, The China NGO Project translated a cartoon portraying foreign NGOs as a national security concern that the government issued as part of National Security Education Day.

“Political security” is a relatively new term in the Party’s official lexicon, only first appearing in the Chinese Communist Party’s quinquennial political report in 2017. It refers to safeguarding “political consciousness, political requirements, political content, and political activities” from both foreign and domestic threats.

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