China imposes controversial new controls on foreign NGOs
BEIJING – Agence France-PresseChina’s Communist-controlled legislature passed a law imposing new regulations on foreign non-government organizations on April 28, authorities said.
The measure has provoked an outcry from charities and concerns from foreign governments that it gives police wide-ranging discretionary powers amid a crackdown on civil society in the country.
At least 1,000 foreign NGOs are thought to operate in China, including development charities such as Save the Children, advocacy groups including Greenpeace, chambers of commerce and university centers.
The National People’s Congress standing committee, which acts as the parliament when the NPC is not in full session, gave the law almost unanimous approval, with 147 votes in favor and only one against.
The full text was not immediately available, but a draft of the bill described by the official Xinhua news agency in a report earlier this week carried many provisions which previously triggered concerns.
It covers foreign charities, business associations, academic institutions and others in China, and requires them to “partner” with a Chinese government-controlled agency and report their actions to authorities.
“There have been some foreign NGOs which have planned or carried out activities threatening the stability of society and national security,” NPC official Zhang Yong told reporters at a briefing.
Chinese police would have the right to cancel any activities they judged a threat to national security, and would be empowered to “invite for talks” the heads of foreign NGOs in China, Xinhua said.
It added police could add any foreign NGO they judged to promote “subversion of state power” or “separatism” to a “not welcome list,” which would ban them from the country.