Law en­cour­ages NGOs to play use­ful role

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

The first lawto reg­u­late over­seas NGOs’ ac­tiv­i­ties in China, which the 12th Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of theNa­tional Peo­ple’s Con­gress ap­proved last week, will take ef­fect on Jan 1, 2017. The NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee re­viewed the draft twice, in De­cem­ber 2014 and April 2015. Af­ter the sec­ond review, the draft was re­leased to so­licit pub­lic opin­ions, and na­tional leg­is­la­tors held sev­eral meet­ings with over­seas non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing in China to seek their sug­ges­tions.

Com­pared with the first and sec­ond drafts, we can see sig­nif­i­cant changes in the fi­nal law. As its name over­seas NGO man­age­ment law­sug­gests, the law ap­plies only to and is aimed at reg­u­lat­ing over­seas NGOs’ ac­tiv­i­ties in China, in­clud­ing for­eign foun­da­tions, so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions and think tanks, rather than schools, hos­pi­tals and aca­demic, sci­en­tific, en­gi­neer­ing and tech­no­log­i­cal re­search in­sti­tu­tions. Also, the laweases re­stric­tions on over­seas NGOs in terms of or­ga­ni­za­tional ca­pac­ity and staff re­cruit­ment.

By in­cor­po­rat­ing some sug­ges­tions of NGOs and the pub­lic, the lawhas re­flected the spirit of sci­en­tific and demo­cratic leg­is­la­tion.

As ade­vel­op­ing coun­try, China has­made­great eco­nomic and so­cial achieve­ments in re­cent years. Still, it faces chal­lenges in so­cial man­age­ment, such ashowto eval­u­ate over­seasNGOs’ac­tiv­i­ties.

Over­seas NGOs are sig­nif­i­cant play­ers in the Chi­nese so­ci­ety to­day, but some leg­is­la­tors, gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tors and so­cial sec­tors have dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes to­ward such ac­tive so­cial play­ers.

China has main­tained a “big­gov­ern­ment” pat­tern for a long time. De­spite this, so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions, es­pe­cially NGOs, have played an im­por­tant role in im­prov­ing so­cial struc­tures. But many do­mes­tic NGOs lack ex­pe­ri­ence given that they are late­com­ers in the field. In con­trast, over­seas NGOs’ long ex­pe­ri­ence and abun­dant funds give them a big ad­van­tage— and they do have great in­flu­ence in China.

How­ever, some over­seas NGOs op­er­a­tions in other coun­tries can­not be put to prac­tice in China, be­cause those may not suit the coun­try’s ac­tual con­di­tions and could even cre­ate prob­lems. For in­stance, hu­man rights schol­arMan­fredNowak has cited 22 prom­i­nent in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights NGOs, and only three of them are based in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Be­sides, many of these NGOs adopt an­tag­o­nis­tic even hu­mil­i­at­ing op­er­at­ing meth­ods, which are un­wel­come by many coun­tries in­clud­ing China.

That’s why China’s lawto reg­u­late over­seas NGOs’ ac­tiv­i­ties is aimed at strik­ing a bal­ance between pro­tec­tion of rights and le­gal re­stric­tions. This shows that, in­stead of shut­ting over­seas NGOs out, the au­thor­i­ties want to en­cour­age them to play a con­struc­tive role in so­ci­ety.

The gov­ern­ment re­quires over­seas NGOs to com­ply with the coun­try’s laws and reg­u­la­tions, rather than sim­ply ap­ply­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences in other coun­tries to China.

The Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties face crit­i­cism from some over­seas NGOs and me­dia dur­ing the leg­is­la­tion process be­cause the lat­ter, fail­ing to re­al­ize the sig­nif­i­cance of the leg­is­la­tion, were wor­ried that the gov­ern­ment would ex­pel them from the coun­try. Their fears were un­war­ranted, though, be­cause China deals with so­cial man­age­ment is­sues in a ma­ture man­ner.

Rule of law, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and hu­man rights are the three ob­jec­tives of the path China is tak­ing, and they are in­ter­re­lated. So China will nei­ther give over­seas NGOs carte blanche to do what­ever they want nor to­tally ban them from op­er­at­ing in China.

Rule of lawis an­i­m­por­tant as­pect of so­ci­ety, an­da­mon­gother things it also pro­tect­sNGOs’le­gal rights. Andsince the over­seasNGO man­age­ment­law­bal­ances the three ob­jec­tives, it will en­sure over­seasNGOs­play a con­struc­tive role in­China. We can thus ex­pect over­seasNGOs’ac­tiv­i­ties in­China to be well­man­agedto achieve the leg­isla­tive ob­jec­tives.

The au­thor is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter forHu­man Rights Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sci­ences.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.