Civil Society | Governance and Social Policy
A high-level international symposium on charity legislation, held in Beijing this summer, underlined the Chinese government’s determination to mobilise charitable giving even as the authorities were tightening their surveillance and control of the informal NGO sector.
Civil Society | Governance and Social Policy | Law and Rights | Media
Chinese Internet authorities have ordered websites—including a Chinese language environmental NGO site operated by China Development Brief (www.greengo.cn)—to remove an open letter from twelve organisations calling for a fair trial for jailed environmental activist, Wu Lihong (吴立红).
Anomalously, the move came after China’s official media had already reported on the contents of the letter, which argued that “in order to support public confidence in the rule of law and build a harmonious society” Wu’s trial should be open to the public and based on lawfully obtained evidence.
Features | Civil Society | Governance and Social Policy | Law and Rights
China is introducing new transparency rules for government—in part, it seems, to curb corruption. But, reports Chang Tianle (常天乐), some progressive localities are ahead of the central government on this issue, and the national rules remain ambiguous as to how much the public has a right to know.
China’s first national regulations on public disclosure of government information have been cautiously welcomed by scholars and NGOs, but most say that China still has a long way to go to achieve transparent government.
The Regulations on Government Disclosure of Information (政府信息公开条例) were approved by the State Council on January 17, 2007 and take effect on May 1, 2008. Article 1 states that they aim to “ensure that citizens, legal persons and other organisations (公民、法人和其他组织) can obtain government information by lawful means, and increase government transparency.”
Features | Civil Society | Health
Although not an HIV hotspot, over the last three years China’s north-eastern province of Heilongjiang has seen a surge of local NGOs working on AIDS prevention. But, Nick Young and Mian Liping (勉丽萍) ask, is this a civil society success story or an opportunistic response to the influx of international funds?
HARBIN Away from the bright lights of Gogol Street, the main entertainment strip in this northern industrial city with historic ties to Russia, a Saturday night crowd has gathered in a downmarket bathhouse that caters for MSM—“men who have sex with men.”
Civil Society | Environment | Governance and Social Policy
The European Union has deepened its collaboration with the United Nations Development Program in China with an EUR 8.08 million (USD 10.5 million) contribution to a UNDP-managed “Governance for Equitable Development” program, while funds from an earlier EU-UNDP agreement are now beginning to flow to consortia of international NGO and local government agencies partnering on biodiversity conservation projects.
Around 40% of the governance program funds will be devoted to civil society support projects implemented through the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MoCA), according to Edward Wu (吴晓晖), UNDP’s Team Leader in Beijing for Rule of Law and Democracy.
Editorial | Civil Society | Corporate Social Responsibility | Governance and Social Policy
Non profit organisations established by the Government of China to mobilise resources for public benefit work are frequently regarded by foreigners as fake, “Government-Organised NGOs.” But the signs are that, as the community of more autonomous, “grassroots” groups mushrooms and spreads, China’s political leadership sees all the more reason to maintain its own stake in the non profit sector. This mirrors China’s management of its industrial sectors and in some ways it makes sense.
Civil Society | Corporate Social Responsibility | Governance and Social Policy | Subscription-only Content
China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs is campaigning to promote charitable giving, while also hoping to encourage higher standards of non-profit performance and accountability. Meanwhile, reports Chang Tianle (常天乐), multinational corporations and management consultants are also hoping to bring business models—or, at least, a more businesslike approach—to the non-profit sector.
Features | Civil Society | Livelihoods | Subscription-only Content
In January the Ministry of Agriculture launched a month-long drive to inform farmers and local officials about the new Law on Farmer Professional Cooperatives (农民专业合作社法). Given China’s long and varied experience of things called “cooperative” it might take longer than a month to get the message through, Chang Tianle (常天乐) concluded after visiting Anhui, Sichuan and Yunnan.
Civil Society | Corporate Social Responsibility | Governance and Social Policy
February saw the formal launch of a Ministry of Civil Affairs information clearing house designed to facilitate information flows across China’s charitable sector and foster a more favourable philanthropic environment for both donors and beneficiaries.
Editorial | Civil Society | Environment | Subscription-only Content
A paper published last year in The China Quarterly concludes, on the basis of interviews with Chinese university students, that “There is little likelihood of environmentalism among students transforming into an independent grassroots movement or becoming a source of pressure for political change.” The most revealing aspect of this study is not the finding but the fact that the researchers chose to pursue such a line of enquiry.
Why are watchers of China’s civil society so preoccupied with looking for signs of nascent, oppositional movements? The prevailing paradigm for social and political change, it seems, sees a necessary role at some point for barricades (or, at least, a “non-violent” variant.) Such a view is not only anathema to the Chinese authorities, inviting the kind of heightened security surveillance that we have seen over the last 18 months, it also implicitly discards—as naïvely idealistic, no doubt—the hope that rational debate and enlightened self-interest may deliver meaningful progress. Yet in a world that is melting at the seams that may be our best hope.