China’s NGO law remains a work in progress



It has been more than two years since the Chinese government proposed tighter controls on foreign nongovernmental organizations, prompting fears for the future of a wide range of groups active in China, from medical charities to branches of foreign universities and business chambers. Among their concerns are the prospect of requirements to obtain government sponsors and police approval of projects and restrictions on fund-raising, The New York Times reports:

Yet two drafts later, a “Foreign NGO Management Law” still has not passed, raising questions as to if the government is reconsidering whether the national security-driven legislation could crimp international cooperation in areas it cares about — such as education, industry and the environment — as it seeks to expand the economy in new ways….. Although the government and security forces probably did not heed the opinion of human rights nongovernmental organizations, they might listen to other groups, a Western diplomat said.

“A lot of international critical comment wasn’t based on human rights issues, but that it would make it very difficult for academic contacts, research organizations” and other groups, he said.

Internal debate

“It’s been almost 10 months since the comments session,” said Shawn Shieh, a worker at a Hong Kong-based nongovernmental organization. “This delay indicates that there is some debate over this. This draft law contained things of really serious concern, not just for international NGOs but also for those within the system.”

At a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, China received criticism from a U.S.-led group of 12 countries for a range of human rights issues, including Beijing’s crackdown on rights lawyers and activists, and the detention of several Hong Kong publishers, notes China Digital Times (a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy).

A Chinese government minister’s defense of ideology in the classroom has ignited a frenzied online debate over what it means to keep Western values out of the country’s schools. The WSJ’s China Real Time blog adds (HT:FPI):

Classes on Marxism philosophy and Deng Xiaoping thought are mandatory for Chinese college undergraduates, and the government has also further launched a campaign in recent years to deepen belief in the country’s “core socialist values” through a series of specially written songs and plays for elementary and middle school children. In January, the government reiterated the need to strengthen patriotic education in its classrooms and instill patriotism among Chinese students studying abroad.

Last year, education minister Yuan Guiren called on professors to be vigilant against the infiltration of Western ideas and avoid materials that “disseminate Western values.”

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