On 28 April 2016, China’s National People’s Congress adopted its highly controversial Law on the Management of Foreign Non-Government Organizations Activities in China (also known as the NGO Law). This law, which is set to come into force on 1 January 2017, requires that foreign nonprofits be sponsored by a Chinese government organization and be registered with the Ministry of Public Security, rather than the Ministry of Civil Affairs, as has been the case. It grants police extensive investigation and enforcement powers, including the ability to arbitrarily summon representatives of overseas groups, cancel activities deemed a threat to national security and limit incoming funds. State news reports estimate that more than 7,000 foreign NGOs will be affected.
This new law is part of a raft of legislation, including China’s recently adopted counterterrorism law and a draft cyber security law, put forward amid a renewed crackdown on dissent by President Xi Jinping’s administration. According to human rights group such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, it is a draconian legislation that will have severe consequences for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are already sharply curtailed in China under existing laws and policies.
Following the adoption of the law, several EU actors and Members States have issued statement expressing concern and criticizing the legistlation:
- Comments by the Delegation of the European Union to China following the adoption of China’s Law on the Management of Foreign NGO Activities withing Mainland China (04/05/2016)
- Statement by MEP Jo LEINEN, President of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with People’s Republic of China: “NGO law – a threat to EU-China relations”
- Statement of the German Embassy in Beijing: The new law on foreign NGO must not damage cooperation”