An Interview with the Guangdong Overseas NGOs Administration Office


中文 English

China’s new Overseas NGOs Management Law went into effect on January 1st. Even though the Ministry has released a guideline on foreign NGO registration and the relevant directories, many are still unclear about the detailed rules; most notably, how to register with the police to set up representative offices and what legal procedures to follow to conduct temporary activities.

In order to answer these questions, NGOCN went to the Office of Overseas NGOs Administration of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Bureau and consulted with a policeman there. These are the questions we asked.


A = Policeman on duty

Q: The Ministry of Public Security has set qualification standards for overseas NGOs to operate in China. It says that an NGO has to have been in existence for a continuous period of at least two years outside of mainland China and have conducted “substantial activities” during that time. What’s the specific standard for this? How can an NGO prove they have done substantial activities?

A: The rule mainly aims to identify fraudulent organizations. That’s why we demand that NGOs have conducted substantial activities. It can’t just be some provisionally registered organizations. It has to have been in existence for more than two years.

The activities are easy to prove. It’s better to provide documents issued by relevant departments. If you don’t have that, you can notarize what you have, either by a notary institution or in front of a notary public. In some places, lawyers issue notarized documents. Different places can have different forms and procedures. These measures all conform to the provisions. There are no terribly complicated provisions.

Q: After the relevant materials are submitted, how do you review them? Are there any substantial auditing standards?

A: In accordance with the guideline, (we will) refine the Management Law (on overseas NGOs) to the best of our abilities. After the required documentation is completed, we shall decide whether to grant or refuse registration requests within 60 days of receiving an application.

As for auditing standards, you can find those in the guidelines. If we can get the picture from your submitted materials, it would be simple for us to audit. If it is overly professional, we may organize experts to review it in light of the Management Law. That would be a special case. Up until now, we haven’t encountered such a situation.

Taking the representative office as an example, you are required to submit 12 types of materials. If all of them meet the requirements and there are no objections, then you can pass. Yet, since things differ for different NGOs, if we are not familiar with the scope of operations of an NGO, we will probably need to communicate and discuss with the Professional Supervisory Unit. That’s why the unit is set up. It is created to verify the materials.

Q: Can a Chinese citizen serve as the chief representative of an overseas NGO? If the answer is yes, is the identity card the only required material?

A: Yes. Provide the identity card or a police certificate if you are a local resident.

Q: Regarding representative offices’ areas of activity, how can NGOs register with the administration if they have operations within more than one province, say Guangdong and Sichuan?

A: This depends on the will of the organization. If a large part of your business is in Guangdong and Sichuan, you can consider setting up a representative office in each province, otherwise transportation could be quite troublesome. Considering the operating costs, you can also set up one office, naming both Guangdong and Sichuan in your application form as active areas. It’s alright as long as it is in line with the real situation.

Q: Are there any overseas NGOs that have successfully set up an office?

A: Many applied, but before obtaining a certificate, they had to go through a procedure. Some organizations are well-prepared, so when they come here, they submit their materials directly. Some organizations probably don’t pay enough attention to this. We are increasing our publicity in an attempt to make it more widely known to the organizations involved.

Q: We notice that the directory for professional supervisory units has been released. How can NGOs reach out to supervisory units and get their approval?

A: Actually, a number of overseas NGOs have been in touch with their supervisory units. It’s okay if you haven’t reached out. You can go directly to their office address. They can guide you through the process of gathering required supporting materials, which is part of their public functions. But the requirements differ between professional supervisory units, so there are no universal standards in terms of getting approval.

Q: Are there any approachable supervisory units?

A: Generally speaking, departments that have been in touch with NGOs before can be more efficient and organized in terms of getting things done. If the departments’ scope of responsibility doesn’t cover much overseas service, then they will probably only be willing to get in touch with one or two NGOs instead of setting up a special office for it. For example, The Commerce Department is more organized and systematic in dealing with this. Many business associations(商协会)went to their office to get the approval letter. They have an organized workflow to handle this procedure.

Q: What if the supervisory unit is not that familiar with the field of a particular NGO and thus reluctant to become their supervisor?

A: Guangdong province has released the Professional Supervisory Units Directory of Guangdong. It’s possible that some departments that are qualified to supervise a certain business are not included in the directory because the business is relatively less well-known. If this is the case, you can inform us promptly. We’ll consider whether to include the departments in the directory through internal coordination mechanisms. We’ll give more detailed responses to specific cases.

Q: What can we do if the registration is not ratified even with the approval letter from the supervisory units?

A: I can’t answer this question in a simple way, so let me give you an example. If you have already gained approval from the supervisory units and submitted the 12 required documents, but we find out that you don’t meet some of the standards, say your organization has been in existence for less than two years, then you will not gain ratification. But after you meet all the requirements, you will be ratified.

Q: Some overseas NGOs are trying to register with the police, but it may take some time. Would it be more convenient for overseas NGOs to operate with Chinese partners and apply to conduct temporary activities?

A: Both choices have pros and cons. It’s better to set up a representative office, submit an annual plan regularly, and turn in an annual activity report at the end of a year. It’s okay if it is only temporary activity. But if it is more than one or two activities, it would be troublesome to apply again and again.

Q: What procedures should Chinese partners go through to apply for a temporary event?

A: Whether the requirement is registration or report, you will have to find Chinese partners. It can be state organs, people’s organizations, public institutions and social organizations. If the Chinese partner belongs to social organizations, then you don’t have to find another partner. Since social organizations register with the Civil Affairs Bureau, you should report to the bureau and gain approval.

Apart from that, you need to prepare documentation demonstrating the legal status of relevant overseas NGOs, such as the written agreement between you and the overseas NGO, evidence of costs and funding sources as well as your bank account details. Then scan all of these materials and upload them to the website of the Overseas NGOs Administration Office. We shall review them and give a formal reply within 10 days of receiving an application (normally it won’t take that long).

After the application is approved, you can make an appointment online for the time you submit the printed materials. As long as all the required documents are submitted, you will be able to complete your share of the task.

Q: Concerning materials that are required to apply for a temporary activity mentioned in the guideline, where should we turn to to get the materials?

A: It depends. Some are governed by the Civil Affairs Bureau and some by other departments. You seem to have registered with the Civil Affairs Bureau, so you need to get approval from them.

Q: Do consulates and UN institutions belong to the non-governmental organizations mentioned in the management law? If we partner with them or apply for funding from them, do we need to report to the relevant departments as stated in the management law?

A: There are no explicit definitions right now since political systems differ from country to country. Some organizations are government-affiliated institutions. Others are non-government-affiliated yet still receive government funding. The latter does not count as a government institution.

Q: Some consulates, like the British and Australian Consulate, provide micro-funding for grassroots NGOs. I wonder whether these fall into the scope of the Overseas NGO Management Law?

A: Our superiors have been informed of this problem and it is still under discussion. We normally suggest that they submit relevant materials, but we are still waiting for the decision of our superiors. If it is defined as an overseas NGO, we will handle the procedure according to the regulations. If not, then it is not our responsibility for now.

Q: When overseas companies or foreign-funded enterprises donate to Chinese philanthropic organizations, perhaps local educational charities, does this fall into the scope of your duties?

A: Donations are not our responsibility. This is philanthropic behaviour, which is subject to the Charity Law. The Overseas NGO Management Law deals with overseas NGOs, while foreign-funded enterprises are business organizations, so they might be subjected to the Corporate Law and the Charity Law.

Besides, it also depends on what type of funding it is. If it is a donation to local public interest organizations, then this is a source of funding for local NGOs, which is not part of our job. We deal with representative offices set up by overseas NGOs in mainland China and their activities.






我们跟境外办民警咨询了这些问题 Q=NGOCN A=办事民警


Q:公安部门审核境外非政府组织设立条件,在境外存续两年而上,并“实质性开展活动”这个的具体标准是什么,怎么证明? A:这个条例的目的主要是辨别一些以诈骗为目的组织。所以要求在境外开展实质性活动,不是临时注册一个组织就可以,要持续两年以上,并且开展实质性活动。


Q:提交完相关所需材料,你们会怎么审核呢,会有其他实质性的审核标准吗? A:根据发布的《办事指南》,把(境外非政府组织)管理法尽量细化。如果已经把相关的材料根据我们的要求全部提供了以后,我们会按照有关规定在六十日给你们做出决定回复。



Q:境外非政府组织的首席代表可以是中国人吗?如果可以,是否只提供身份证件证明就可以了呢? A:可以的。提供本人的身份证件证明,并且如果是本地户籍,可以在本地开无犯罪证明。

Q:关于代表机构活动地域的确定,如果代表机构业务涉及几个省进行活动,比如一个机构业务涉及广东、四川等不同地区,该如何注册呢? A:这个可以根据本机构的意愿,比如业务在广东四川比较多,往返比较麻烦,你可以考虑分别在两个省设立代表机构。也有组织考虑成本的原因,也可以只设立一个机构,比如设立在广东,然后你的活动地域可以填写为广东、四川等实际活动领域,只要符合实际情况就行了。

Q:目前有没有已经成功设立代表机构的境外非政府组织? A:目前已经受理了很多,但颁发证件还有个过程。有一些组织前期准备比较充分,一来就可以提交材料,也有组织可能相对关注不高,我们也在不断宣传,让更多组织了解。


Q:看到出了相关主管名录,怎么联系和获取这些主管单位的同意呢? A:其实不少境外非政府组织前期都跟他们的主管单位有接触。但是没有接触也没关系,你可以直接去到他们的办公地址,他们都有对外办公的职能,可以指导你找哪个业务处室来办理,包括需要提交哪些材料,这个是公开的职能。但因为每个具体的业务主管部门的要求是不一样的,没有统一的(同意)标准。

Q:有哪些比较容易接触,容易获取同意的主管单位部门吗? A:一般来说,跟非政府组织接触比较多的相关职能部门,处理会更快捷,也更清晰。如果涉外活动领域比较少的职能部门,他们可能就接触一两家(境外非政府组织),就不会专门开设相关窗口。 比如商务厅,不少商协会(找到他们)办理同意文件,他们就比较规范和成型,有专门体系操作。

Q:如果主管单位对申请的境外非政府组织业务不太了解,不愿意成为相关的主管单位,可以怎么办呢? A:针对广东的情况,广东省发布了主管单位名录(《境外非政府组织在粤活动领域和项目目录、业务主管单位名录》(2017)),但也可能存在一种情况,比如业务比较冷门,暂时(合适的主管单位)没有列入名录中。如果出现这样的情况,可以及时向我们反映,我们可以通过内部协调机制,考虑是否将(他们)这个列入名录中。我们可以针对具体的情况有更详细的回复。

Q:如果登记已经获得业务主管单位批准,但还是没有通过,可以怎么办呢? A:这个不能很简单来回复。举个例子,如果你们已经获得业务主管单位的批准,但在提交12项材料,我们发现还有不符合条件的,比如你们需要“在境外存续两年而上,并实质性开展活动,”但你只注册了一年还不足够两年,这样就不行。但只要完全符合这12条的规定和提交相关的材料,就可以了。


Q:一些境外NGO在争取注册,但可能还需要一些时间;如果目前有中方合作单位与境外NGO合办活动,以临时活动备案的形式会不会更方便? A:两个办法各有利弊,其实最好是注册一个代表机构,每年提交一个年度计划,年末交年度活动报告,这是总体备案。如果是临时活动,也可以,但如果活动多,反复备案比较麻烦。

Q:如果中方合作单位要办理境外非政府组织临时活动备案,要走什么程序? A:不管是登记还是报备临时活动,都需要有中方的合作单位,可以是国家机关、人民团体、事业单位和社会组织四种。如果是社会组织,不需要另外寻找合作单位,你们是在民政局登记注册的,要作为活动备案主体向民政局递交资料报备,获得民政部门许可。




Q:临时活动备案所需材料里的“中方合作单位获得批准的文件”要向谁申请?怎样才能拿到? A:这份指南(《境外非政府组织代表机构登记和临时活动备案办事指南》)是面上的规定,要看具体的,可能有些是民政管,有些是其他部门管。像你们可能是民政局下面注册的组织,那你们就应该是由民政局批准。

Q:请问各国领事馆以及欧盟、联合国等机构是否属于《境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》的非政府组织,如果与这些机构合作或者申请相关机构的资助,是否需要根据管理法的程序进行备案程序呢? A:这种目前还没有明确的界定,因为每个国家的政治体制不同。有部分是单纯的政府下设的机构,有些是(国外)的民间组织来购买政府服务,虽然是政府出资,但也不能理解为政府机构。

Q:因为部分国家的领事馆,比如英国领事馆、澳洲领事馆,有时也会有一些针对草根NGO的小额资助活动,不知道这些属不属于《境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》的管理范畴? A:这个问题,已经向上级部门反映,他们也在讨论和定夺当中。遇到这种情况,我们一般会建议他们先提交材料过来,我们也在等待上级明确的答复。如果情况属于境外非政府组织的话,我们会依照规定给你们办理手续,如果不属于的话,那将暂时不纳入境外非政府组织管理办公室的管理。

Q:海外公司或外资企业捐赠国内的慈善组织,比如外资企业想捐助一些本地助学公益机构,这些属于境外非政府组织管理法管理的范畴吗? A:外资企业捐助公益机构,这不属于我们管理的范畴。因为这是慈善行为,应该接受慈善法等法律法规的调整。因为本法管理的对象是境外非政府组织,而外资企业是属于商事组织,经济组织,而不是非政府组织,这个行为可能会受到公司法、慈善法等规范和调整。


Translated by Yuan Ye

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