NGOs Tread Lightly on China’s Turf

Asia Times looks at the state of in China, in the wake of the shutdown of Gongmeng legal assistance group:

It could be argued that Gongmeng was an isolated case of government interference in China’s NGOs, but a report on disaster relief fund management by Deng Guosheng, associate professor of ’s School of Public Management and , tells a different story

According to Deng’s study, by November , public donations to help disaster relief in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in May last year, many made through NGOs, totaled some 65.252 billion yuan (US$9.5 billion) – excluding donations in kind. However, about 58% of the total (37.9 billion yuan) went to various government agencies, 36% went to government-designated Red Cross organizations, charities and foundations and only 5.9% ended up with local foundations less affiliated to the government.

Deng found that part of the 36% that went to government-designated organizations in fact eventually went to government departments. Some specifically-designated donations were even ultimately channeled to government units for “the purpose of overall planning”. Altogether, according to the report, more than 80% of total relief donations ultimately ended up in government accounts.

Thus, ironically, while encourages NGOs to play a bigger role in disaster relief (which is non-political), government departments and officials have found ways to keep NGO hands off relief funds donated by the public.

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