After two drafts of the law regarding the management of overseas NGOs in Mainland China, the final draft of the law was passed earlier this month. Prior to the final draft, we already saw how the anticipation of the new law was affecting foreign NGOs in China and those who were preparing to come to China.
There were many differences between the previous drafts and the final law including some of the following larger key points:
- Registration – While there will be a more intensive registration process, the overseeing government entity will be required to respond to applicants within a specific time period after submission. Previous drafts stated that the representative offices in China would not be permitted to hire local staff but the final law states these offices will be allowed to hire one local chief representative and up to three local staff members. Representative offices will now be able to stay in China for an unlimited time unlike the previously proposed limit of five years.
- Protection – The overseeing local government agency will provide more protection for the legally registered foreign NGOs especially in regards to the protection against fraud.
- Relationship with local NGOs – Foreign NGOs no longer need to partner with local NGOs which allows for more flexibility.
- Finances – All financial records, fundraising, and expenditures will be closely monitored by the overseeing government entity.
- Accountability – The public security authorities will oversee all foreign NGOs. Previous drafts stated that government officials have the right to enter a foreign NGOs office and check any files and computers at will. The final law is much milder and states officers have the right to question staff members outside of the office and maintain the right to ban the entity from China.
- Research and public entities – Overseas schools, hospitals, scientific and engineering technology research institutions, and academic organizations are exempt from this law.
The specifications of how this law will be implemented and upheld have not been solidified and there is currently much debate within the sector regarding how this new law will affect the landscape of the nonprofit industry in China.
This law will go into effect on January 1, 2017. For more an English version of the law, please see the following link.