Written by Yu Fangqiang, Managing Partner of Beijing Yirenping Center for Anti-Discrimination Law, from Asia Catalyst:
In mainland China it is extremely hard to start up a non-governmental organization (NGO) without a background in government. The difficulties are due to restrictive government policies, monopolization of resources by NGOs with government background, a lack of trust throughout the overall society, the lack of capabilities among the grassroots’ organizations, and unrealistic expectations from funders.
Restrictive Government Policies
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China requires that all its citizens have the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to peaceably assemble, organize, demonstrate and petition. However, in order to organize in mainland China (i.e., to establish an NGO), one has to register the organization according to the Social Organizations Registration and Administration Act. If the organization does not do this it is not protected under the law. It is criminal for such an organization to publicly accept outside donations without a legal status. In addition, to establish such an NGO, they must have a regular business location, full-time staff, a registration capital of more than thirty thousand yuan and official documents with a stamp of approval from the governmental agencies, which have been designated as “supervising offices.”