Fears expressed that some international NGOs may leave China over inability to comply with the Overseas NGO Law

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Citing a US media source, the Xinhua News agency group reported that some overseas NGOs are considering leaving China out of concern that they will be unable to comply with the requirements set out by China’s Overseas NGO Management Law (the Law), effective on January 1, 2017.

According to a Voice of America (VOA) report on December 16, the Overseas NGO Law provides that all overseas NGOs intending to carry out activities in China shall register and file for records. The overseeing and supervisory agency is now switched from being the Ministry of Civil Affairs to the Ministry of Public Security. According to the Law, overseas NGOs are prohibited from funding for-profit and religious activities or engaging in political or unlawful religious activities.

The VOA also noted that the US Embassy in China has warned US citizens associated with overseas NGOs that failures to comply with the Law may result in interrogation and sanction upon the Law becoming effective on January 1. Currently there are over 7000 overseas NGOs operating in Mainland China. Save for large NGOs like the Ford Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Foundation, the majority of overseas NGOs have not registered or filed for records except for registration with the Administration of Industry and Commerce.

During a press conference held on December 15, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Di Shuang responded to concerns raised by the foreign media that some overseas NGOs may exit China due to an inability to comply with the Law within the short window of time before the Law becomes effective. Mr. Di reiterated that the purpose of the Law is to safeguard overseas NGOs’ legal rights in China and enable their better integration into China’s economic and social development process. Di further stated that the Ministry of Public Security issued a “Guideline on Registering a Representative Office and Filing to Conduct Temporary Activates for Overseas NGOs”, which aims to facilitate the process of registration of representative offices and of filing for temporary activities. Interested parties can refer to the website of the Ministry of Public Security for more information, said Mr. Di.