China to reform regulations on social organisations

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On August 21, the General Office of the Communist Party of China (GOCPC) and the General Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China (GOSCPRC) jointly issued a document entitled ‘Opinions on the Reform of the Regulations on Social Organisation to Promote a Sound and Orderly Development”.

The document, which will act as a de facto guideline, reaffirms the role of social organisations in social development, and requires a series of reforms. It stresses their strategic importance and urgency, as the “sound and orderly development of social organisations” helps improve the socialist market economy, consolidate the CPC’s governing foundation, promote public services and stimulate social vitality.

The document lists four basic principles to persist in for the achievement of a sound and orderly development; they are respectively the leadership of the CPC, reforms and innovation, the balance between control and freedom, and the balance between activity and stability. According to the guideline, great efforts and resources will be invested in cultivating community-based social organisations. Thresholds will be lowered for organisations that dedicate themselves to community service, old-age care, charity, sports, entertainment and agricultural technology. The registration procedures for qualified organisations will also be simplified.

There will be greater support for social organisations coming from government procurement of services, project funds and subsidies. The greatest support will go to organisations that offer services to the elderly, women, children, the disabled, unemployed, migrant workers, the mentally challenged and misbehaving juveniles, among other groups. If possible it is suggested that incubator systems, funds and bases be introduced to community organisations to encourage their comprehensive development. Social organisations are supposed to register with civil affairs departments in accordance with relevant regulations. Chambers specialising in commerce, high technology, public welfare and urban/rural community services will be given the priority to develop.

Civil affairs departments, together with the relevant CPC offices, are responsible for examining the qualifications of social organisations. The initiators of social organisations are not allowed to conduct any activity unrelated to the area they claim to be engaged in. The government at all levels is obliged to retreat from fields involving certain petty administrative affairs and public services which would be better taken care of by the market and society. It should cede management over these fields to social organisations through tenders.

The scope of services that governments procure from social organisations will be expanded, according to the guideline. The document also stipulates favourable fiscal and taxation policies for social organisations, scrupulous registration procedures and funds’ oversight. Moreover, the media and the public are encouraged to exercise their right of supervision over social organisations.