Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NGOs participation in disaster relief in China

April 28, 2010

I do plan to get back to discussing the previous cases of restrictions on NGOs in China, but wanted to highlight the role of NGOs in responding to natural disasters in China given the drought problem in Yunnan and the recent earthquake in Yushu, Qinghai. I wrote in a previous blog about the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 being a watershed event in energizing the NGO community here. We haven't seen a similar grassroots response in the drought and the Yushu earthquake. But NGOs are playing a role in both, whether we see it or not, and it's worth tracking their efforts in both disasters. Disasters and other crises seem to expand the space for NGOs by creating an urgent need for assistance in a short period of time that the government itself is unable to fully satisfy. But not all disasters are equal. The Sichuan earthquake was located near urban areas where a number of NGOs were concentrated. The same cannot be said of the Yushu earthquake, which is in a more remote area. Still, some of the websites I have listed on this blog, such as China Philanthropy, have articles about the Yushu earthquake relief. And below is an article by Yu Fangqiang, coordinator of an NGO and a thoughtful commmentator on the Chinese NGO scene. Thanks to Asia Catalyst for translating this article and making it available on their blog.

Where are the NGOs in China's Natural Disasters?
April 27, 2010 1:23 PM | No Comments

By Yu Fangqiang

The other night, a little after midnight, I was about to turn off my computer and go to sleep when I noticed, with surprise, an article in China Development Brief's Community Times: "Droughts in the Southwest Test Emergency Response: Where are the NGOs?"

China has recently been hit by a number of natural disasters, including the epic drought in the southwest and an earthquake in Qinghai. After reading this article, I had a few thoughts I had to share.

Certainly, NGOs were very visible and powerful during the Wenchuan earthquake. While the public could not see the challenges China's NGOs face, they could definitely see the impact they can have. But droughts raise another set of challenges. What exactly should NGOs contribute in these circumstances?

First of all, we need to bear in mind that not all NGOs have the technical ability to respond to a disaster like the current drought. Second, of those NGOs that have the capacity to respond, not all can dedicate their limited time and energies to the drought. And third, even those NGOs that have the ability and the capacity can't measure up to the ability and capacity of the state. NGOs do not exist to replace the state, but to widen the competitive environment for public interest work. Within this environment, NGOs can monitor official organizations and government departments in order to improve their effectiveness, and urge them to work more efficiently. If NGOs were better at everything than the government, we wouldn't need the government.

In the response to the southwestern drought, we do indeed see the government playing a positive role. However, has this response been efficient and effective? What we see are an increase in state funding while the drought continues. The state's response has largely channeled mandatory donations to the same old officials, institutions and cronies as in the past. In a particularly outrageous instance, school teachers have compelled students to donate at least 2 yuan (about 30 cents) each to drought relief efforts - an immoral and illegal action.

Getting back to the NGOs, however: most NGOs are grassroots organizations in a state of malnutrition. To start with, most cannot register in the Bureau of Civil Affairs. After struggling for several years, they began to register in the Industrial and Commercial Bureau, which compelled them to pay taxes. After a few years of continuing with program work while paying taxes, the Bureau of Civil Affairs and Trade and Industry Bureau began to launch investigations into the discrepancy between the commercial names these groups used to register, and the names they used to do their NGO work. Those NGOs that survived this process now have to deal with the new foreign exchange regulations. In addition, we had the shutdown of migrant workers' schools in Beijing, in advance of China's Two Sessions, the shutdown of the Chongqing Sensen orphanage on March 15, and the restrictions on civil charity activities during the Shanghai World Expo.

Some groups have attempted to resist the restrictions on NGOs, as in the case of the tax resistance campaign which some two dozen organizations signed onto earlier this year. As of late April, I do not know what the results were of this effort; even if they are successful, this will be a long, hard fight. And of course, the case of Oxfam's treatment as a class enemy by the Ministry of Education, which recently warned colleges not to participate in Oxfam programs. Oxfam has carefully managed its government relations, and must have felt like a woman whose lover refuses to marry her after making love to her for twenty years. Oxfam is one of the few NGOs with the capacity to respond to the drought crisis - but unfortunately, they're otherwise occupied now.

We cannot accuse NGOs of failing to help respond to the drought when their difficulties are caused by the state. NGOs have no funds to donate, no institutional capacity to respond to crises, and struggle with all kinds of internal and external challenges. But nonetheless, I recently saw a report online which said that "more than twenty NGOs called for water conservation in the north". Does this make us feel better? It is simply not true that NGOs are unconcerned about the drought. The truth is that their movements are hampered.

Yu Fangqiang is chief coordinator of the Chinese civil rights organization, Yirenping. This article is translated and adapted from the Chinese original at http://www.chinadevelopmentbrief.org.cn/ngo_talkview.php?id=1245.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shutting down of NGOCN's website

April 21, 2010

Sometime in early April of this year, the website for NGOCN was shut down. I profiled one of the founders of NGOCN, Lu Fei, in an earlier blog. NGOCN was established in 2005-2006 in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, and serves as an information platform for NGOs. It also started to offer capacity building training to NGOs, mainly those located in southwestern China (Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou). It appears that only the website has been affected up to now. NGOCN still operates, maintains a blog, and sends out newsletters on a regular basis, msot recently about NGO participation in the Yushu earthquake in Qinghai.

There seem to be several reasons for the closing down of NGOCN’s website. One has to do with a national trend to reregister websites and blogs in China. If this is the main reason, then the closing of NGOCN’s website will most likely be temporary and we can expect it to resume in the near future. Another reason that has been mentioned is that NGOCN was involved in rallying NGOs to participate in drought-relief activities in Yunnan. If this is the real reason, then NGOCN may have a bigger problem on their hands.

I called the director of NGOCN to ask her about the situation, but she didn’t want to talk about it over the phone, suggesting that the reasons for the shutdown were sensitive, but she did say that the shutdown was temporary and she seemed quite confident that their website would be back up soon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Peking University Women's Legal Aid Center loses its affiliation

April 14, 2010

On March 25, Beijing University announced that it would rescind its relationship with 4 organizations: Beijing Finance and Economic News Research Center (caijing xinwen yanjiu zhongxin); Beijing University Public Law Research Center (gongfa yanjiu zhongxin); Beijing University Constitutionalism Research Center (xianzheng yanjiu zhongxin); and Beijing University Law School Women's Legal Research and Services Center (funu falu yanjiu yu fuwu zhongxin).

The first 3 organizations did not get much attention because they were pretty much empty shells, but the mention of Women's Legal Research and Services Center attracted a lot of attention because it is one of the best-known legal aid NGOs in China. Established by Guo Jianmei and others in 1995, the Center has done a great deal in advancing women's rights in China, and has been visited by Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright and other dignitaries.

Some people at first thought the Center had been shut down, but all the notice did was disassociate Beijing University from the Center. The Center had been affiliated with the Beijing University's Law School which meant that it did not have to register, but was “attached” (guakao) to the Law School. In reality, the Center was an independent NGO that had its office outside of Beijing University, but it used the Law School’s bank account and had to get approval for its finances from the Law School. A number of NGOs in China have this arrangement which brings with it a number of advantages. They don’t have to go through the difficult process of registering with Civil Affairs as an NGO, yet they derive a measure of legal status and protection from being affiliated with a government-backed organization. The disadvantage is that the NGO is not entirely a free agent, and its affiliation can be canceled at any moment, as the Center found out.

Below is a statement issued by Guo Jianmei, the founder of the Center, about their disassociation from Beijing University:

2 April 2010

Statement by Guo Jianmei and Her Team

Farewell, Beida!

On 25 March, the Division of Social Sciences, Peking University, published a Notice of Cancellation of Organisations on the University’s official website. The Center for Women's Law & Legal Services was one of the four on the list. The days that followed were filled with calls of concern and support from the media, NGOs, partners, the relevant authorities, friends and persons whom we have helped. We are touched, and we are grateful!

To an entity that has been single-minded in purpose and enterprise for the last 15 years, expulsion from the Peking University family is a major and unexpected setback which affects more than just the entity itself. For the Center for Women's Law & Legal Services of Peking University is a symbol of deep significance. To the country, it is an industrious pair of hands that helps build social harmony. To the weak and the vulnerable, it is a ray of light that offers warmth and hope. To NGOs and our partners, it is a fellow comrade on the frontlines, enforcing the rule of law and advancing good for the civil society. To the people at large, it is a deliverer of social conscience and the spirit of law. And to every member of the Center, it is our common home.

As such, to those who have cared and still continue to care, I would like to say a few last words about this name that has become history:

I. In 15 years, we have lighted up more lives than the sun has.

Since the Center’s inception in 1995, our aim was to provide legal aid, protect women’s rights, and promote gender equality. Equity and justice were not only the Center’s tenets, but the belief and ideal espoused by every member. As the first public interest organisation in China that specialises in providing legal aid for women, we were one of the earliest private legal aid practice. While demand for legal aid among the vulnerable was high, State legal resources were scarce. The Center thus became an expedient complement that plugged gaps in the government’s legal aid services. It has since, helped more than 100,000 women victims obtain recourse to justice.

In 2004, to meet the increasingly diverse needs in women’s rights protection, the Center began providing public interest litigation services, and was soon to become an important force in public interest legal practice. Absent a public interest litigation framework, the Center set itself to legal and policy improvement and reform by working on typical cases, incorporating the protection of the individual rights of women into the overall rights of citizens, to ensure impact. The cases involved important and difficult issues as gender discrimination in the workplace, labour rights of women, sexual harassment in the workplace, violence against women, rights of female migrant workers, and rural women land rights. And by employing different approaches in legislative advocacy, the Center has expanded its beneficiary population.

Our efforts have rendered power to the law and to legal aid. A victim once told us, “the Center is like a lamp, glowing of equity and justice, exuding warmth in the cold, and shedding light on the darkness ahead. She spoke not only for the many weak and poor women, she spoke also for the meaning of our enterprise.

The Center has become a sphere of influence that motivated many later-comers. Consciously, it took on the responsibility of providing legal aid, conducting public interest litigation, organising public interest legal advocacy, and training public interest lawyers. In 2002, a legal aid collaboration group was established, so as to enable more organisations and institutions to participate in the delivery of legal aid. In 2007, the Center founded the Public Interest Lawyers’ Network for Women’s Rights, and in 2009, the name was changed to China Public Interest Lawyers’ Network. The Network currently comprises more than 300 brilliant lawyers from more than twenty provinces and cities, providing legal aid for thousands of poor and vulnerable people. I still remember the Network’s launch ceremony on 15 March 2009 at the Centennial Lecture Hall at Peking University, where leaders from authorities as the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Legal Aid, Center for Legal Assistance, All-China Lawyers’ Association and the Beijing Lawyers’ Association turned up to show their support. The speech given by Professor Zhu Suli, Dean of Peking University Law Department remains vivid in my mind.

In September 2009, Ms Guo Jianmei, public interest lawyer and head of the Center founded Qian Qian Law Firm. Specialising in public interest law and public interest legal activities, and comprising professional public interest lawyers, Qian Qian has expanded its scope to benefit a broader spectrum of vulnerable persons such as the disabled, migrant workers and the aged.

15 years of innovative approaches and effective outputs have not only profited the poor and vulnerable women; the Center has also grown to become an influential and credible NGO. It has earned praises and won awards. In February 2006, in their congratulatory note to the Center’s tenth anniversary, Professor Min Weifang, the Party Secretary of Peking University, and Professor Xu Zhihong, President of Peking University, said, “the Center for Women's Law & Legal Services of Peking University has observed Peking University’s glorious tradition of patriotism, progress, democracy and scientific approach. By seeking relentlessly, developing aggressively, and improving constantly, it has achieved commendable results, contributed to the progress and advancement of women’s rights protection and legal aid delivery, and served its role in fostering harmony. Its work has won interest, support and tribute of the society and its peers, recognition and respect from women at large, and glory for Peking University!”

As Premier Wen Jiabao said, “Equity and justice glow brighter than the sun.” Indeed, equity and justice are of supreme value and significance to every individual, every country, and every nation. The Center shall be a faithful and determined perpetuator of this worthy cause.

II. Hurdles deter us not, but spur us on.

Cancellation by Peking University was not our first setback. The Center was nearly closed down during its initial days, only to be followed by one challenge after another. Funding was a major problem, as those days, funding channels were few and funding systems unregulated. Fund shortage stymied NGO development, and was the major obstacle to the Center’s growth.

Talent is another problem, especially when the Center, as a professional organisation, was in need of well-qualified legal professionals. Attracting and retaining talent in a society of low public interest awareness and driven by utilitarianism was a huge difficulty. So were balancing ideals and the reality, dedication and compensation, and spiritual fulfilment and material satisfaction.

Our work is also hampered by a deficient legal environment, flawed enforcement systems, administrative interference, local protectionist policies, industry protectionism, even corruptive practices within the judicial system. Persistent overwork leading to physical and mental stress of the Center’s members is also a permanent problem.

Cancellation is also not the gravest difficulty we have faced. We were even threatened with physical harm. When angry villagers in that remote village let go of their tightly clasped sticks, convinced by our steady and determined gaze, we knew we could never be beaten. Because justice is what we pursue, and justice will always triumph.

Difficulty is only an excuse of the weak and the feeble. To go-getters with conviction, difficulty is impetus to move mountains. Difficulty is but snowfall before spring comes. And snow melts. Thereafter, a spring breeze will blow away, bringing forth myriad blossoms and an enchanting fragrance.

III. Farewell, Beida! But our pursuance of equity and justice shall endure, and our belief in the rule of law shall prevail.

We have several members on our team who are Peking University graduates. They were inculcated with knowledge and intellectual depth, and nurtured with democratic sensibilities and humanistic values––the motivation for their choice of a public interest career. Cancellation was saddening to Guo Jianmei. This is not the Beida that she once knew. Guo’s resolute embarkation on a public interest career was guided by her Beida predecessors and the Beida spirit. She hopes that many will understand her sense of desolation and feeling of betrayal.

But desolation is one thing, Guo Jianmei and her team are as eager and as passionate as ever. They are convinced that legal aid and public interest work is what the people need, and what a harmonious society must have. These needs are revealed by the Center’s work during the last 15 years, spoken by the sacks of millet and sweet potatoes, and the hundreds of thank-you banners from those poor and vulnerable clients, and proven by the numerous awards that the Center has won.

The Center may have become a chapter in history, Qian Qian is for now and the future.

The Center has devoted itself to serving women’s rights, giving legal aid, and growing as an NGO. The least it has done is to have sent this message: Private legal aid organisations must and will play an indispensable role in China. Given the national circumstances, charting new frontiers, will require dedicated and valiant fighters, and they should be recognised and encouraged.

The future will be bright, and we will stick to our goal and continue on. The road may be treacherous, and the view along the way may not be always pleasant. But the meaning of life is about keeping our feet on the ground, undeterred, and making our way toward our ideals.

We have no complaint, we have no regret.

We thank every entity and every friend who cares for and who supports us. We have you, who will walk with us.

Formally Center for Women's Law & Legal Services of Peking University

Friday, April 9, 2010

Notice on administration of donated foreign funds

April 9, 2010

Last month, a notice by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange was issued calling for tighter controls over foreign exchange donated to Chinese institutions. This notice was not aimed specifically at NGOs/nonprofits, but probably disproportionately affects them because many Chinese NGOs rely heavily on overseas donations. The translation below was provided by Yirenping, a Chinese legal aid NGO.

The Chinese version of this Notice appears on the official website of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange

Promulgation date: 12-25-2009
Effective date: 03-01-2010
Department: State Administration of Foreign Exchange
Subject: Foreign Exchange

Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Issues concerning the Administration of Foreign Exchange Donated to or by Domestic Institutions

(No. 63 [2009] of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange)

In order to improve the administration of donated foreign exchange and facilitate the donated foreign exchange receipts and payments, according to the Regulation of the People’s Republic of China on Foreign Exchange Administration and other relevant provisions, we hereby notify you of the issues concerning the administration of foreign exchange donated to or by domestic institutions as follows:

1. The term “donation” as mentioned in this Notice refers to the gratuitous endowment and aid of legal foreign exchange funds between domestic institutions and overseas institutions or overseas individuals.

2. The receipts and payments of foreign exchange donated to or by domestic institutions shall comply with the laws and regulations and other relevant administrative provisions of China and shall not go against social morality or damage public interests and the legitimate rights and interests of other citizens.

3. The receipts and payments of foreign exchange of domestic institutions shall be transacted through a donated foreign exchange account, which shall be set up at the designated foreign exchange banks (“Banks”) and incorporated into the foreign exchange account management system by the Banks.

Except as herein provided, the opening, use, altering and closure of the donated foreign exchange account shall be dealt with in accordance with the regulations on foreign exchange accounts under current account. The scope of receipts include donated foreign exchange from overseas and foreign exchange funds for the purpose of overseas donation(purchased or allocated from foreign exchange accounts under current account in the same name). The scope of payments include payments stipulated in the donation agreement and other donation payments.

The scope of receipts and payments of donated foreign exchange accounts of the representative offices within China of overseas non-governmental organizations include donated foreign exchange appropriated from their headquarter as well as the legitimate expenses of those organizations.

Where the donations occur between domestic enterprises and overseas for-profit institutions or overseas individuals, the opening, use, altering and closure of domestic enterprises’s donated foreign exchange accounts shall be dealt with in accordance with the regulations on foreign exchange accounts under current account.

4. Domestic institutions shall present correlative documents as stipulated in this Notice for the examination and approval of the Banks to proceed the receipts and payments of foreign exchange donations.

5. Where the donations occur between domestic enterprises and overseas non-profit organizations, the domestic enterprises shall present the following documents so as to proceed in the Banks:

1) an Application(in which the domestic enterprises shall truthfully promise that the donation is not against national prohibitive regulation, that the transaction has, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, been examined and filed in record, that the overseas institution is a non-profit institution, that the domestic enterprise shall strictly follow the agreement in making use of the donation and bear the legal responsibility thus caused. For the format of the Application, see Attachment I);
2) a copy of its business license;
3) a notarized donation agreement with the purpose of donation prescribed;
4) a certificate of registration of the overseas non-profit organization (with its Chinese translation attached);
5) Where the above materials fail to sufficiently establish the authenticity of the transaction, other materials required;

The donation between domestic enterprises and overseas for-profit institutions or individuals shall be dealt with in accordance with the regulations on cross-border investment and external credit or debt.

6. Where the donation is made to or by state organs at or above the county level and certain organizations that, according to relevant regulation provisions, do not have to register or are exempt from registration, they shall present the Application to proceed foreign exchange receipts and payments at the Banks. (For the list of such organizations, see Attachment II.)

7. The representative office established by the overseas non-governmental organization within China shall present the Application and the donation agreement between its headquarter and the Chinese Beneficiary so as to handle the entry of the donated foreign exchange.

8. Other domestic institutions not listed in Article 5, 6 or 7 of this Notice shall present the following documents so as to proceed the receipts and payments of donated foreign exchange:

(1) An Application(in which the domestic institution shall truthfully promise that the donation is not against national prohibitive regulation, that the transaction has, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, been examined and filed in record, that the domestic institution shall strictly follow the agreement in making use of the donation and bear the legal responsibility thus caused.)
(2) a copy of the certificate of registration issued by relevant administrative departments
(3) A donation agreement with the purpose of donation prescribed

Where religious groups on the national level accept a donation of foreign exchange equivalent to or above 1 million yuan RMB, they shall also present the approval of accepting the donation issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs. Where local religious groups and sites for religious activities such as temples, monasteries, mosques and churches accept a donation of foreign exchange equivalent to or above 1 million yuan RMB, they shall also present the approval of accepting the donation issued by its Provincial People’s Government.

9. Where domestic institutions make a donation to overseas, they shall, in addition to the correlative documents stipulated in this Notice, submit as in accordance with relevant regulation provisions the Tax Certificate for Foreign Payments under Trade in Services, Benefits, Current Transfer and Some Capital Items.

10. In processing the receipts and payments of donated foreign exchange for domestic institutions, the Banks shall examine the documents submitted according to relevant regulation provisions and report to local SAFE departments suspicious and unusual cases in a timely manner.

The Banks shall indicate on its examination and approval the date and amount of the transaction with its official chop for business. All correlative documents shall be kept for five years for future reference.

11. The SAFE departments shall in accordance with relevant laws and regulations supervise and administer the receipts and payments of donated foreign exchange . They shall further enhance off-site supervision of the donations.

12. Violations of this Notice and correlative foreign exchange administrative regulations shall be punished in accordance with Regulation of the People’s Republic of China on Foreign Exchange Administration and other relevant regulations.

13. This Notice shall enter into force as of March 1, 2010. In case of any contradiction with previous regulations, this Notice shall prevail.

On receiving this Notice, all branches of the SAFE shall transmit it promptly to the sub-branches, city commercial banks, rural commercial banks and foreign-funded banks under their jurisdiction. All Chinese-funded Banks shall promptly forward the Notice to their branches. Any problem encountered during the implementation shall be fed back to the SAFE in a timely manner.

Attachment I Application for Receipts and Payments of Foreign Exchange Donation by Domestic Enterprises

Attachment II List of Certain Organizations Exempt from Registration According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs

December 25, 2009

Attachment I.

Application for Receipts and Payments of Foreign Exchange Donation by Domestic Enterprises

Bank :
The Enterprise hereby applies to receive/pay donated foreign exchange in the amount of , mainly for the purpose of .
The Enterprise solemnly promises, that the receipt/payment of the donated foreign exchange is not against relevant national prohibitive regulations, that the transaction has, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, been examined and filed in record, that the overseas institution is a non-profit institution. The Enterprise shall strictly follow the donation agreement in making use of the donation and bear the legal responsibility thus caused.

Contact Person: Contact Phone Number:

The Enterprise: (With its Official Chop/Seal)

Date: Year Month Day

Attachment II

List of Certain Organizations Exempt from Registration According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs

1. Organization that took part in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference:

All-China Federation of Trade Unions、China Communist Youth League、All-China Women Federation、China Association for Science and Technology、 All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese、All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots。All-China Youth Federation、All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce。

2. Organizations that are exempt from registration according to the State Council:

China Federation of Literary and Art Circles、China Writers Association、All-China Journalists' Association、Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries、Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs、China Council for the Promotion of International Trade、China Disabled Persons’ Federation、China Soong Ching Ling Foundation、China Law Society、Red Cross Society of China、China Society for the Study of Ideological and Political Work among Workers and Staff、Western Returned Scholars Association、Huangpu Military Academy Fellow-Student Association、National Association of Vocational Education of China。

3. Eleven Artists’ Associations under China Federation of Literary and Art Circle: Chinese Theatre Association、China Film Association、Chinese Musicians Association、China Artists Association、Chinese Ballad Singers Association、China Dancers Association、Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society、China Photographers Association、China Calligraphers Association、China Acrobats Association、China Television Artists Association。

4. All Provincial, Autonomous Regional, and Municipal-level Federations of Literary and Art Circle and Writers Associations

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Oxfam HK case

April 9, 2010

Oxfam HK has been known for its work with grassroots NGOs, especially those involved in the more sensitive work of migrant workers and "rights protection." The Notice was apparently for internal consumption but appeared on the website of the Nationalities University (Minzu daxue) for a short time where it attracted the attention of international human rights and media organizations. A source close to Oxfam HK said that this case has caused some problems for Oxfam in terms of how they should present themselves to both the Chinese government, and its international audience and donors in Hong Kong and abroad. According to this source, Oxfam HK has not handled the issue well, though it does not appear to have endangered Oxfam HK's overall operations in China.

Below is the translation of the Notice, thanks to the efforts of China Digital Times.

"To the education working groups of all Party committees of provinces, autonomous regions, and provincial-level municipalities; all Departments of Education; the Education Department of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Military Corps; and all Party committees affiliated with higher education facilities:

According to information obtained by relevant agencies, since 2005, the Hong Kong-based China office of Oxfam International has consistently collaborated with domestic “rights protection” (weiquan) organizations to launch training programs for “university student volunteers.” Recently, these organizations have decided to employ “Internet mass publicity” methods, directly sending recruitment information to advising centers at domestic colleges and universities. This information encourages teachers to recommend people. Oxfam then screens out “suitable candidates” and arranges internships for them at partner “rights protection” organizations in major cities. The internships will last from March to June 2010.

Hong Kong-based Oxfam is one of the NGOs dedicated to infiltrating our interior regions, and its leaders are the backbone of opposition factions. In view of the special nature of our education system, particularly colleges and universities, we must sever and remove any contact with the organization, and not have any form of cooperation with it. Education bureaus and colleges and universities in all regions must unite in thinking and be on heightened guard. Recognize the ill intentions of Oxfam in recruiting “university student volunteers”, and diligently execute surveillance measures.

Presently, be advised of the following related demands:

1) Increase inspection and control of Oxfam’s recruitment of “university student volunteers” at our colleges and universities. We must especially intensify, in a targeted manner, management of college and university career advising centers and campus employment information pages. College and university television broadcasts, school publications, notice boards and walls, and campus Internet networks are not allowed to publish any information related to these training programs.

2) Require that all college and university career advising centers and all college departments not be allowed in any manner to recommend people for these training programs. If you discover teachers or students have participated in such programs, you must immediately adopt appropriate dissuasive measures and successfully execute educational advising actions.

3) In the normal examination and approval process of student community activities, resolutely prevent Oxfam and its cooperating organizations from using financial support or other forms of support to publicize on campuses. Intensify the organizational management of employment and internships for graduated students. Diligently execute employment-advising services, move forward in expanding the strength of employment assistance for particular groups of graduated students, and prevent graduated students from moving towards these “internships” at “rights protection” organizations.

While each region and higher education institution develops these measures, all must show a clear political stand, maintain a vigilant attitude. Furthermore, all must tighten up internally while keeping a relaxed outward appearance, pay attention to systems and methods, and prevent people with ulterior motives from seizing an opportunity to cause trouble. Upon encountering serious situations, all must report in a timely fashion to the local party committee, government, and education bureau."

Feb. 4, 2010, Party Committee of the Ministry of Education

Is it getting a bit chilly for NGOs in China?

April 8, 2010

Over the last month, a number of events have transpired that suggest an effort by Chinese authorities to better regulate (some might say "control" or "restrict") the NGO sector. In the next few posts, I'll be posting some of the offending notices/regulations and trying to make sense of what this all means for both Chinese and foreign NGOs in China.

Just to summarize these events, the earliest was a Notice issued by the Ministry of Education's Party Committee calling on Chinese universities to prevent the international NGO, Oxfam Hong Kong, from recruiting student volunteers for its projects around China. This was followed by a Notice from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) that required domestic institutions (not just NGOs or nonprofits, but also enterprises, though government organizations, mass organizations and a number of GONGOs appear to be exempted) to provide documentation verifying the nonprofit nature of any foreign donations they received. Then, there was Beijing University's disassociation with the Beijing University Women's Law Studies and Legal Aid Center which will no longer be able to attach itself to BeiDa's Law School, and will have to find a new home. Finally, and most recently, the NGOCN website was closed down with very little explanation.

In the next few posts, I'll provide more information about each of these events, and speculate on whether we're seeing a chill descend on NGOs in China.