The Charity Law Receives New Life


Karla Simon


After a long, quiet summer of no developments on the ‘Charity Law,’ it was suddenly presented for a first reading in the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the end of October.   The comment period is due to end on November 30, and we plan to submit comments as we did on the last draft.

In my last blog, I spoke about ‘contradictions’ between the Charity Law and the Law to Regulate Foreign NGOs. The latter seems to have been taken off the table for now – there was significant opposition to it in both China and at the highest levels of foreign governments (for comments by US experts about the proposed law’s negative effects see here).

Now that the Foreign NGO Law is no longer being considered in the form in which it was originally proposed, we can concentrate instead on the Charity Law before the NPC.  As I said last April, ‘What they are doing is bypassing the need to write national regulations for direct registration because this will be enacted in law,’ said Karla Simon, a legal scholar and author of ‘Civil Society in China’, who was consulted during the drafting process.’ Read more at Reutershttp>

This is an incredibly meaningful change. Up until the passages of this law, permission to register was required for most NGOs in China. In addition, charitable fund raising and volunteering were only sporadically regulated.  The Charity Law will change all that.

Most importantly, unregistered charities will be permitted to carry out charitable activities.  Art 114 of the proposed law states: ‘Even when a non-profit organization with the purpose of conducting charitable activities is not registered, it may still conduct charitable activities within its limits, but shall comply with the relevant provisions of this Law and benefit from relevant rights and interests according to law.’  This is an excellent provision and goes a long way to ensuring that the Chinese people have freedom of association.  But it may be controversial, and it is impossible to predict whether it will survive the new few readings.

Karla W Simon (西 门 雅) is chairperson of ICCSL.

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