Human Rights in China and Human Rights Watch have criticised China’s new law governing foreign non-government organizations (NGOs). The law, passed Thursday, imposes a series of new regulations and gives authorities expanded powers that activists say threaten the existence of foreign NGOs and civil society in China.
The US-based Human Rights Watch called the law “draconian” and another tool to “legalise China’s human rights abuses.”
“Civil society groups have been one of the only human rights success stories in China in recent years, and their survival is crucial for the country’s future,” said Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch. “So long as repressive restrictions are imposed on some parts of civil society in China, all organisations remain at risk.”
The new law is set to take effect on January 1, 2017 and will require all foreign NGOs to be sponsored by a Chinese government organisation. The law also requires the NGOs to register with the police and Ministry of Public Security, rather than the Ministry of Civil Affairs as they have in the past.
Another US-based NGO, Human Rights in China, stated that the new law has “the potential to undermine the role and contributions that foreign organisations make toward China’s growing civil society.”
“The international community needs to avoid getting suckered into China’s divide-and-conquer strategy and must reject the clearly politicised distinction between the ‘harmful’ and beneficial’, especially when ‘beneficial’ really means beneficial to Party control,” added Human Rights in China executive director Sharon Hom.
“Ultimately no group will be deemed welcome unless it is willing to work within a constricted civil society space that is securely monitored and controlled by the authorities.”
Deeply concerned at passage of new NGO law in #China. Act limits space for civil society; puts legitimate work of independent NGOs at risk.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 28, 2016
The passing of the law has also sparked outcry on social media, most notably by United States Secretary of State John Kerry.