China adopts new law on international nonprofits operating in mainland

World Today

Chinese officials answer questions about a law regulating overseas non-governmental organizations during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

International nongovernmental organizations must secure approval from Chinese authorities before they can operate on the Chinese mainland, under a new law adopted by China’s top legislature Thursday.

This applies whether they are planning to open permanent offices or operate temporarily, The law states. Overseas nongovernmental organizations operating on the mainland without approval will be punished.

The law was adopted at the bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017

The Ministry of Public Security and provincial police departments will be responsible for registration and regulation.

International nongovernmental groups that wish to operate on a temporary basis must find Chinese partners and file their programs with the Ministry of Public Security or with provincial police departments.

To operate on the mainland, nongovernmental groups be able to bear civil liability independently and have been in operation for at least two years.

Foundations and social service organizations run by overseas nongovernmental groups that have already registered with the civil affairs department, can continue operating, said Deputy Head of the NPC Law Committee Xu Xianming. Exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and overseas colleges, hospitals, and science and engineering research institutes will also follow existing regulations.

The law stresses that international nongovernmental groups operating in China shall not undermine the country’s unity, security, or ethnic solidarity, nor harm the interests of the state, public, or the legal rights of citizens and other groups.

Such groups cannot engage in or sponsor commercial and political activities or illegally engage in or sponsor religious activities.

These groups will also have preferential tax policies.


The new laws reflect an easing of restrictions compared to previous proposed drafts.

The law removed a provision in the original draft that limited offices in the Chinese mainland to one, and removed the five-year operational limit of representative offices.

The restrictions on staff and volunteers were also removed, but tougher rules have been imposed on financial disclosure, including conducting financial audits and publishing financial reports.

A prior draft required a permit if an overseas nongovernmental organization wanted to temporarily operate in the mainland. In the final law groups need to file a compulsory report with the regulator 15 days before the program begins. However, their Chinese partners must obtain approval.


The law allows police to interview chief representatives and senior executives if they are suspected of breaking the law. Police can also ask the Chinese partners to terminate a cooperation program if they find that the groups undermine state security.

Nongovernmental groups will have their registration certificates withdrawn if they are found stealing state secrets, spreading rumors, sponsoring political activities, or any other activity that harms state security and interests. Staff directly responsible for offenses may face police detention or criminal prosecution.

Any nongovernmental organization that engages in illegal activities including anything that subverts the state or splits the nation, will be banned from operating on the mainland.

Story by Xinhua.