The Foreign NGO Management Law has undergone a second reading by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and will now be reviewed and revised before the third reading. The new draft contains a significant change from the first draft, which said that foreign NGOs were not permitted to open local offices in China under any circumstances. In the new reading, foreign NGOs can open offices but only with explicit permission from the State Council. From China Daily:
The draft that was given a second reading at the bimonthly meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Thursday allows NGOs to open branches in the country with the permission of the State Council.
The change was made “in light of the Chinese government’s positive attitude toward some international NGOs”, an explanation text of the draft said.
“Foreign NGOs and their representative offices are not allowed to establish branches in China unless the State Council gives them special policies,” the revised provision said.
The draft is not the final version of the proposed law. Under legislative procedures, the draft will be revised and taken to the third reading, followed by a vote of the Standing Committee of the NPC. [Source]
Reuters has more on the changes:
The draft was altered after “some localities and departments” pushed for change, noting there were already important science and technology-related international NGOs operating in China, the website of the National People’s Congress said.
It was “recommended that the provisions be more flexible”, said the notice, dated on Wednesday.
The draft was discussed by the leadership of the parliament on Thursday.
An earlier draft of the law, barred foreign NGOs from activities that violate “Chinese society’s moral customs” and from setting up branches in China under any circumstances. [Source]
The full text of the second reading of the draft law has been translated by China Law Translate. Read more about the tightening restrictions over foreign NGOs via CDT.
George Soros, the founder of the Open Society Foundations, discusses China with Orville Schell at the Asia Society in New York and explains why his organization has not been active there, even before the current tightening of legal restrictions:
“(China has) very efficient political police,” the Open Society Foundations chairman said at Asia Society in New York on April 30, likening himself to Typhoid Mary. “[People we help] are immediately put in a different category and are much more closely examined. So it’s better for us not to be active, because we could be hurting the people who we want to help.”
In the above video clip, Soros explains that China is at a crossroads — it is transitioning to a more market-oriented economy, but political reform remains stagnant. “That is an imbalance for China,” he said. “For China to become a more open society, it needs political reform, but now it’s in the difficult transition and power is actually being centralized in the hands of the president.”
Watch the interview here: