Awareness of Charity Law’s provisions still lagging behind, says scholar

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A reporter for China Society News recently interviewed Wang Ming, the dean of Tsinghua University’s China Philanthropy Research Institute, about the popularization of China’s Charity Law.

When asked what the current status is regarding the Charity Law, Wang Ming replied that even though there have been a number of revisions to portions of the law and even though numerous media outlets have reported on it, the current level of public awareness on the law is not ideal. He believes that this is due to a number of reasons. One reason is insufficient coverage of meetings regarding the registration process by the Civil Administration Departments. Reporting on the Charity Law was also mainly concentrated before the “Two Sessions”, dropping significantly afterwards. In addition the content of the law is difficult for ordinary people to fully grasp.

Regarding the publicizing of information on the charity law, Wang Ming said that “in modern society, government is not the only one to be inevitably linked to charity. Rather every person and organization cannot go without it. If someone doesn’t report on these things, no one will know. Some people think that the duty of reporting on these laws lies with the Civil Administration Department, but this is a misunderstanding. Reporting this is the duty of the legislature, law enforcement agencies, the media and relevant scholars.”

The reporter then asked Wang Ming what kind of methods we could adopt to realize an effective top to bottom popularization of the law. Wang Ming responded that “at the beginning of legislation and implementation, we must launch a multifaceted, large scale, comprehensive reporting on the law. We must also allow every charitable organization, administrative authority and relevant legal operating department to grasp the Charity Law.” He went on to add that “workers in the field of charitable organizations should use easy-to-understand language to write books that can popularize the law.” Aside from this, the media can also help to inform the public on such laws by reporting on them through television, traditional newspapers, Weibo, Wechat and other forms of social media.

The scholar was also asked what he thinks about the fact that only a small number of social organizations have actually applied to register as charities since the law went into effect. Wang Ming said “I’ve always stressed that charitable organizations are a more advanced form of social organizations. They are more sophisticated and pure, therefore we need to use higher standards when trying to understand and grasp them. Let me use a metaphor to explain this. The Charity Law is an article of tight clothing. Every social organization can use the requirements of the law (clothing) to measure themselves. If they fit, then then can apply. If it doesn’t fit, then they have to lose some baggage before applying.”

Wang Ming concluded by telling the reporter that the most rigidly constraining and most core principal regarding institutional arrangements in the Charity Law is access to and disclosure of information. The Law not only requires all charitable organizations to promptly disclose their information, but it also requires all Civil Administration Departments above the county level to disclose information about charitable organizations and their activities. Following the disclosure of information, the functions of the various supervisory institutions will become increasingly large.