A number of offices operated by international organizations in China have been recently visited by Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers for operating in a non-compliant manner. Such organizations have been urged by the PSB to establish NGO Representative Offices if they wish to operate in China long term.
Many of these organizations have been foundations, trade associations and membership organisations rather than the politically motivated groups that the term NGO may conjure up in the reader’s mind. This article will provide an overview of the PRC NGO Law; what is considered to be an NGO under Chinese law, what options work and which do not.
Overview of Law - The PRC Administrative Law on Overseas NGOs’ Activities within China (in Chinese: 中华人民共和国非政府组织境内活动管理法) (“PRC NGO Law”) was passed at the 20th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress and took effect on January 1, 2017. It is the first law on the administration and supervision of Overseas NGOs’ activities in mainland China. It should be noted that PRC government treats the PRC NGO Law as falling under national security legislation and this explains in part why it is the PSB that cracks down upon NGOs in China in case of a failure to comply with PRC NGO Law.