Wang Ming. by Chen Jian
AChinese expert in philanthropy research and president of Institute for Philanthropy at Tsinghua University, Wang Ming was a driving force in drafting China’s first Charity Law from day one, earning the reputation of a champion of the Charity Law. As a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), he submitted nearly 20 proposals to this year’s CPPCC annual session, 12 related to the Charity Law. Recently, Wang sat down for an interview with China Pictorial.
The Charity Law is China’s first fundamental law concerning philanthropy. What are your feelings about it? What impact will it have on the development of the country’s charitable causes?
Wang: The Charity Law is a milestone because it will bring China’s philanthropy and social governance to a new era.
First, the law defines the concept of “greater philanthropy,” which I believe involves both public welfare and philanthropic deeds. The concept is broader than the traditional understanding of philanthropy, namely, helping the poor. The concept itself brings China’s philanthropy into a new era.
Second, the law is adopting a new registration system. The Charity Law standardizes a unified registration system for charity organizations.
Third, the law sets up a charity accreditation system, according to which all charity organizations must undergo an authentication audit performed by relevant registration authorities.
Fourth, the law includes an entire chapter on the supervision of charity organizations. It not only emphasizes the government’s supervisory responsibilities, but also encourages the public and the media to join in supervision.
Fifth, the law establishes a complete system on tax incentives for charitable actions. Previously, the nation’s taxation policies in this regard were fragmented.
Sixth, the law makes clear that finance should play a bigger role in the development of philanthropy, and that financial institutions should be participating in charity.
Seventh, the law clarifies issues concerning charitable trusts. China’s Trust Law does have stipulations on charitable trusts, but they haven’t been implemented yet. The Charity Law makes charitable trusts a new driver of the nation’s philanthropic development.
There are also stipulations on how donations should be used and on the liability of charitable organizations in terms of information disclosure.
The enactment of the Charity Law will not only promote the development of philanthropic causes, but will also promote comprehensively deepening reform, system reconstructing, and public awareness of charity.
Compared to governmental charityorganizations,whatrole doprivate charityorganizationsplay?what difficultiesarethey facing?
Wang: Over the decade since 2006, China has witnessed rapid development of charitable endeavors, which can be largely attributed to wide participation from all segments of society, including non-governmental organizations, enterprises and the market. They show great enthusiasm for charity. Of course, a lack of relevant laws and regulations caused some problems in the past, especially while China witnessed social transformation.
The past shows why the nation needs a charity law. The purpose of the law is both to regulate charity activities and promote the rapidly-growing charity movement in China.
Currently, “internet+” is a buzzword in China. How can charity work with the internet?
Wang: This is an often heard question these days. Many are already working on it by launching internet-based charity campaigns, such as “Free Lunch” to provide meals for students in poverty-stricken areas and “Micro-charity” that aims to incorporate social networking applications with charity. Thanks to big data technology, China has seen the birth of philanthropic information platforms like the China Foundation Center. However, new questions have emerged, such as how to supervise those platforms and how to connect older supervision systems to big data platforms.
In a broad sense, philanthropy is meant to benefit others. In the mobile internet era, philanthropy is no longer something confined to specific individuals, organizations or professionals, but something everyone can be a part of. Philanthropy in the internet era is characterized by participation from everyone. Technically, philanthropy is about giving, not sharing. As the concept of the sharing economy is introduced to the field of charity, perhaps a new kind of philanthropy will emerge to enable sharing without a change of ownership. In the new information age, methods to integrate the concept of the sharing
economy with charity are worthy of research.
We cannot expect the Charity Law to solve every problem, nor can we require it to do so. Actually, the law isn’t formulated to eliminate problems, but rather to provide guidance to solve them.
As a social law, what role will the Charity Law play in promoting social management and innovation inchina?
Wang: There is a voice calling for integration of the Charity Law and efforts towards comprehensively deepening reform. In my opinion, the law provides plentiful space for China’s structural reform, promoting innovation in social governance and the formation of new organizations such as social service organizations. Formerly, such organizations were known as private non-enterprise institutions. The Charity Law recognizes the concept of social ser- vice organizations. However, this raises the question of how social services should develop under the framework of the Charity Law. Some have doubts about how the government will form effective constitutional space for social service organizations and how the groups will efficiently allocate resources and development modes.
Especially at the community level, the Charity Law enables innovation in social governance, including community-level fundraising, donation, and establishing charity organizations. This will provide an important constitutional force for innovating social governance and restructuring and reforming previous systems.
The enactment of the Charity Law will provide enormous space for the development of philanthropy and innovations in social governance in China. Along with the process, many new organizational forms and modes will likely emerge.