This article interviews scholars and officials concerning the Charity Law which is still under review at the State Council. It notes that the recent scandals in China’s philanthropy sector may hasten the passage of the Charity Law, but also raises concerns that the Charity Law, as drafted, will not be sufficient to address a number of unresolved issues in the charitable, nonprofit sector.
One fundamental issue has to do with the definition and registration of charitable organizations. The Charity Law draft uses a very traditional definition of charitable organizations limited to those that help the elderly, the disabled and the poor. The Charity Law also does not address the difficulty that many social organizations face in registering and gaining legal status. Without resolving these more fundamental issues surrounding the definition and legal status of charitable organizations, the Charity Law draft is seen by some experts as problematic. Given the difficulties in passing the Charity Law, it is worth noting that there are other ongoing initiatives to improve regulation of the charitable sector. Some localities such as Jiangsu and Hunan have passed their own local legislation on charity and fundraising. In addition, in August 2011, the Ministry of Civil Affairs also published information disclosure guidelines for charitable organizations, and hopes this year to turn those guidelines into regulations.