Foreign nongovernmental organizations operating in China have always had trouble, and a new law in China is going to now make this operational grey zone even darker.
The new law was passed yesterday by the National People's Congress Standing Committee and goes into effect on January 1, 2017. With the new law, the Ministry of Public Security and local police will be responsible for vetting NGOs and deciding if they are friendly or hostile to China's development.
The law went through many draft stages over recent months, and foreign organizations were given a chance to suggest amendments. But the passage of the law now is making many foreign and domestic charities, civil society agencies, and NGOs worry about how the law will impact their operations in China.
Currently some NGOs like Save the Children and Greenpeace operate in China under the current tight system for registered NGOs, while others hover in a grey zone where they may register as a business entity in China instead of an NGO. By registering as a business entity, this potentially puts the NGOs staff in China in peril of breaking the spirit of the law; and many overseas NGOs have refused to fully enter China because their respective charters restrict them from operating as a business entity.
China's official news agency Xinhua says, "NGOs that engage in illegal activities, including anything that subverts the state or splits the nation, will be banned from operating on the mainland."
In addition, many Chinese and foreign companies put great effort into their corporate social responsibility initiatives by donating to or participating with NGOs in China. This new law may now make companies more careful about the groups they support with their CSR activities, lest they donate to or help an organization that later runs afoul of the law.