Date
22 July 2017
China's proposed law on foreign NGOs could severely hamper the activities of Western non-profits and civil society groups in the country, critics say. Photo: Bloomberg
China's proposed law on foreign NGOs could severely hamper the activities of Western non-profits and civil society groups in the country, critics say. Photo: Bloomberg

China draft law on foreign NGOs raises concerns

Western governments and foreign non-profit groups are urging China to revise a proposed law that could severely restrict the activities of non-government organizations and business groups, Reuters reported.

A draft law on foreign NGOs, which was released public consultation last month, requires foreign non-profits to find an official sponsor, typically a government-backed agency, and gives broad latitude to the police to regulate activities and funding.

Reacting to the draft law, the European Union has complained that Beijing was using the law to “silence dissenting voices”, Reuters said, citing a confidential diplomatic document. 

“It’s an effort to control foreign organizations under the guise of law-based governance. These are the prevailing winds of the time in China,” a European official was quoted as saying.

Under the law, the term “foreign NGO” is so loosely defined it could apply to an American professor planning to speak at a Chinese university, foreign trade associations, and overseas dance troupes performing in China, the report noted.

NGO representatives who “subvert state power”, “engage in or provide financial assistance for political activities” can be detained for up to 15 days, fined up to 300,000 yuan and investigated for “criminal liability”.

A coalition of groups spanning diplomacy, academia, civil society and business are organizing to petition the government to tone down the law, which could be passed later this year, the report said.

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