China NGO Legislation
U.S.-based associations and nonprofit organizations are still assessing the impact of a law approved in late April by China’s National People’s Congress to police the activities of foreign nongovernmental organizations in China.
China’s Foreign NGO Law formalizes legal requirements for foreign NGOs desiring to conduct activities in China and establishes what types of activities are welcomed. Chinese officials have said the new law is intended to clarify uncertainties as to how foreign nonprofits can operate in China, but the nation’s leaders have also expressed security concerns and wariness of nonprofits with an advocacy or civil liberties agenda.
While the law exempts universities, hospitals, and scientific-research organizations, many industry and trade associations will find themselves subject to the law’s registration and reporting requirements, effective on January 1, 2017. Under the new law, foreign NGOs will need to register with China’s Ministry of Public Security and submit to a review of their operations, including their finances. Such groups will also have to report on planned activities each year and be sponsored by a Chinese partner organization.
ASAE’s general counsel firm, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, prepared a client alert detailing the law’s provisions and implications for foreign-based organizations that conduct activities in China.
“Foreign NGOs will need to understand the new law’s tighter policing provisions, reporting requirements (including annual reports on planned activities for the coming year), and restrictions on fundraising and recruiting within China, among other changes,” the Pillsbury alert said. “The new law does clarify some uncertainties regarding how foreign NGOs in China can operate, but it also engenders new questions about how the relevant authorities will apply its provisions.”