(CDB Forum 2019) Lu Xuan – How Overseas NGOs Can Work Legally in China

中文 English

Editor’s Note

This is our translation of a talk given at the CDB Forum 2019, held in Beijing on the 11th of November. The speaker, Lu Xuan, is the chairman of Shanghai’s Legal Centre for NGO (上海复恩社会组织法律研究与服务中心). In this talk, entitled “the operational compliance of overseas NGOs under the new law”, Mr. Lu interprets the Overseas NGO Law from a legal perspective, covering some of the main points of confusion that can arise for international NGOs that want to work in China under the current legal framework.

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I am very honoured to have received CDB’s invitation to come and share some of my views and experiences regarding the legal compliance of overseas NGOs since the implementation of the “The People’s Republic of China’s Law on the Management of the Activities of Overseas NGOs within Mainland China”.

 

First of all, let me go over some points of common knowledge regarding the law.

Firstly, from the very name of the “People’s Republic of China’s Law on the Management of the Activities of Overseas NGOs within Mainland China”, which from now I will call the Overseas NGO Law, we can see that it involves an issue regarding the applicability of overseas laws.

Those who have studied law all know of the class called “international private law”, which deals with the applicability of foreign civil and commercial law. Overseas NGOs are established overseas, and their legal identity applies the law of the place of registration. This point is very important. Determining whether an organization is or isn’t an NGO according to local law in the country or region of origin is crucial to determining whether the Overseas NGO Law is applicable or not. (note that the “Law of the Application of Law for Foreign related Civil Relations of the People’s Republic of China” states that “when it comes to the capacity for civil rights, civil behaviours, to organize a body, and the shareholder rights and duties of the legal person and its branch organizations, the laws of the place of registration apply”).

This issue of legal applicability will have an impact not only at the time of registration, but also during the NGO’s operations. For instance, which countries’ laws apply for donation contracts of overseas NGOs? Does China’s contract law and charitable donations law apply, or is it the law of the country or region of registration? If it is decided to use overseas law for the donation contract, in that case what about the articles contained in the Chinese law, which have to be followed regardless? A conflict of legal applicability will manifest itself. (Note: the “Law of the Application of Law for Foreign-related Civil Relations of the People’s Republic of China” states that “the parties may explicitly choose the laws applicable to foreign-related civil relations in accordance with the provisions of law. If there are mandatory provisions on foreign-related civil relations in the laws of the People’s Republic of China, these mandatory provisions shall directly apply. If the application of foreign laws will damage the social public interests of the People’s Republic of China, the laws of the People’s Republic of China shall apply.)

Secondly, during the process of implementation of the law, the release of the supporting measures and documents lagged behind, which is a common problem in Chinese legislation. Normally, the legislative process tends to focus on the broad picture and not the details, and the explanatory books and accompanying documents for the Overseas NGO Law were indeed rather few. Taking the Charity Law of the PRC (hereinafter referred to as the Charity Law) as an example, after the law was published in 2016, experts from the Committee on Legal Work of the Standing Committee of the NPC, the Supervisory and Judicial Affairs Committee of the NPC and the MCA took part in the drafting of no less than six recommendations, explanations and Q&As. Even though these weren’t “authoritative explanations”, but they did explain the meaning and applicability of every article of the law quite comprehensively from an academic angle. 20-30 accompanying regulations and documents were also released in succession. In the case of the Overseas NGO Law however, the supporting documents are still insufficient in number and not complete enough, so there is still much space to complement them, and furthermore there is still no explanatory book.

What’s more, I would suggest that Overseas NGOs that are not so familiar with the law need to correctly distinguish between the provisions of the law and policies and the actual requirements of the relevant organs. What is law, what is policy, and what are the requirements of the PSUs and the registration authorities? The law is fixed, while policies are standard documents, not laws, and they might offer some adjustments. Some overseas NGOs mistakenly take the requirements of the relevant government organs as legal requirements, when in fact this is not accurate, because these requirements may change with the passing of time, while the law is relatively unchangeable.

Thirdly, the development trends of the legal environment are different. The reason is very simple, the whole management and supervision under the Overseas NGO Law has become more standardized and strict, so this is also a good opportunity for everyone to really understand the law.

Fourthly, correctly understanding the involvement of overseas NGOs’ lawyers specialized in foreign-related cases will be useful to promote the law’s implementation. Why do you need lawyers specialized in foreign-related cases? Because the staff in overseas NGOs’ representative offices is usually quite limited, and lawyers are usually employed directly by the headquarters, and can communicate directly with them. The staff of the representative offices has limited powers, and even the chief representative’s decision-making powers may not be absolute, because a lot of authority remains with the headquarters. But in reality a lot of the time cooperation requires talking directly to the legal consultant or person responsible in the headquarters. According to the “Lawyer’s Law”, lawyers enjoy professional immunity, and the foreign clients place trust in them. Considering also that lawyers specialized in foreign cases are more familiar with foreign legal systems and cultures, and can handle communications more smoothly, if the lawyers discuss the legal problems directly with the decision-makers, the results will be more satisfactory.

 

Following are ten important rules regarding the legal compliance of overseas NGOs

First of all, when overseas NGOs carry out activities in Mainland China, they have to register a representative office in accordance with the law. If they haven’t, they need to file a temporary activity. If they have not fulfilled these two conditions, they must not overtly or covertly carry out any activities, or overtly or covertly entrust or fund any local organizations or person to carry out activities in Mainland China. Strictly speaking, it is illegal for an overseas NGOs that hasn’t registerd to do anything except for trying to register or file a temporary activity.

Secondly, overseas NGOs in Mainland China cannot carry out or fund for-profit, political or religious activities. What does non-profit mean? The Civil Code of 2017 once again makes it clear: a legal entity established for charity or other non-profit purposes, that does not redistribute profits to funders, founders or members, is defined as a non-profit legal entity. The question of whether something is for-profit is not related to whether you provide services to others and receive an income for it. Non-profit doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to charge a reasonable fee. In Chinese law, the understanding of “for-profit” is not directly related to whether you accept a fee and run operational activities. Whether something is for-profit depends on how you distribute the earnings – the assets and gains of non-profit organizations cannot be privately distributed or given as a bonus to any founder, funder or member. After an organization is closed down, the remaining assets should be turned over to other non-profit organizations of a similar nature, or used for social and charity purposes. This issue of being non-profit or not is connected to the legal compliance of the funding programs.

Thirdly, overseas NGOs must not establish branches within Mainland China, except if the State Council has other regulations in this regard.

Fourthly, overseas NGOs with representative offices or carrying out temporary activities should not develop memberships in Mainland China, except if the State Council has other regulations in this regard.

Fifth, overseas NGOs and their representative offices cannot fundraise in Mainland China. The charitable fundraising defined by the Charity Law includes public fundraising and also targeted fundraising. Thus the fundraising that is not allowed here includes not just public fundraising, but also targeted fundraising. Some Chinese foundations have also asked whether targeted fundraising has limits. According to the Charity Law it does, when done by charitable organizations it should be limited to specific targets, like the sponsors, the board of directors and the members. So are Chinese foundations not allowed to receive donations from companies or individuals? This should not be a problem, because giving donations (捐赠)and soliciting donations (募捐) do not have a one-to-one correspondence. There are often people who confuse soliciting donations (募捐) with fundraising (筹款 or 筹资), but in fact in China they are different concepts. For instance, when Chinese social organizations accept donations from society, it’s not necessarily from soliciting donations.

The Overseas NGO Law makes a lot of specific requirements on overseas NGOs with activities in China, including but not limited to the next five that I am about to go through.

Sixth, carry out activities according to the name, scope of work and location of activities specified during registration or filing. This may be the focal point of future administrative supervision and law enforcement.

Seventh, protect information transparency. This includes two aspects. The first is disclosure towards society according to the law, for instance publicizing the annual work plan. The second is accepting the supervision and management of the public security organs, relevant departments and PSUs, complying with the requirements of government departments and disclosing the relevant information to them.

Eighth, store all the material and accounting files of the activities. This point is worth stressing: the government learns about activities within China through its management of the representative offices and temporary activities of overseas NGOs, so all the accounting and program materials must be placed on file. (Note: as made clear by the “Civil non-profit organizations’ accounting system document N.1 (draft to solicit feedback)”, the representative offices of overseas NGOs should use this accounting system. In fact this is already being dong in practice.)

This is also very important, because when the relevant departments carry out inspections they want to see these materials. The program materials, accounting materials and the materials from the filing of temporary activities need to be appropriately taken care of. At the same time, changes in the staff also need to be filed with the government departments in a timely fashion.

Ninth, the annual work plan. Overseas NGOs’ representative offices have to report their activity plan for the following year, including the program implementation, use of funds and other content to the PSU before the 31st of December. Within ten days of the PSU agreeing, it has to be filed with the registration management authorities. If the activity plan needs to be altered because of special circumstances, then this should be filed timely with the registration management authorities.

Tenth, the annual inspection. Overseas NGOs’ representative offices should hand in their annual report for the previous year to their PSU by the 31st of January. After the PSU issues its comments, the report should be sent to the registration management authorities by the 31st of March to receive the annual inspection.

 

Apart from this, I would also like to interpret the concept within the law.

How should we understand “activities within China”? The first thing to ask regarding the law is what does “within China” and “activity” mean. The “Charity Law” has rules regarding the scope of charitable activities, and the overseas NGO law also has a scope: it lists eight categories, the economy, education, technology, culture, sports, environmental protection, poverty alleviation and disaster relief (in other words, overseas NGOs can carry out activities in these fields in accordance with this law that benefit the development of charity). If an overseas NGO or their Chinese partner are unsure whether they need to file a temporary activity for one of their own activities, they had best phone the local public security department’s overseas NGO management office or their PSU.

The overseas NGOs’ registration process and some points of notice: the law’s conditions for registering a representative office for an overseas NGO include the following: (1) it has been legally established overseas; (2) it can independently assume civil responsibility; (3) the mission and scope of work provided by the constitution are favourable for the development of charity; (4) it has existed overseas for over two years and has carried out actual activities; (5) other conditions stipulated in the laws and administrative regulations.

Notice “it has existed overseas for over two years and has carried out actual activities”. First of all, the NGO has to have been established overseas for at least two years, newly registered organizations won’t do; it also must have carried out actual activities, these two points are both important. Also, it must be an independent legal unit, so for instance branch offices of overseas NGOs registered in Hong Kong are definitely not entitled to register a representative office.

The filing of temporary activities: in actuality filing a temporary activity involves the approval of various departments and is quite rigorous. First of all, before running such an activity an overseas NGO must find a Chinese partner, and there are legal requirements regarding its identity. Since overseas NGOs can only carry out non-profit activities in China, only these four categories of organizations can be Chinese partners for temporary activities: national organs, people’s groups, public institutions and social organizations. Companies certainly can’t fulfil this role. How to carry out filings is also very important. Some universities have the right to approve activities related to international entities, and some Chinese partner units are social organizations that have a very close relationship with their PSU, so it’s easier for them to receive their approval. When the Chinese partner unit is a social organization, factors like the level of familiarity and trust of its PSU towards the activity will determine the difficulty of conducting the filing.

The professional supervisory unit: this is a topic that can’t be avoided. There are rules on what things have to be reported to the PSU for examination and approval, and what the PSU’s authority is. In sum, the PSU’s agreement has to be received as a preliminary before registration, but ultimately registrations and filings are completed with the PSB. The PSU is also responsible for modifications to the registration, providing comments on the annual work plan, providing guidance and supervising the legality of the overseas NGO’s activities. The administrative and law enforcement rights rest with the registration management authorities and the public security departments, while the PSU just has to assist public security to investigate unlawful behaviour by overseas NGOs and their representative offices. All of these are the scope of work of the PSUs.

Finally, it needs to be stressed that the only two ways for overseas NGOs to work in China is to register a representative office or file a temporary activity. There is no substitution. It is important to remember not to break the rules by transferring project funds directly to Chinese beneficiaries or partners. The law states clearly that overseas NGOs that establish a representative office have to go through a bank account that the office has filed with the registration management authorities in order to manage and distribute funds within China. Overseas NGOs filing temporary activities must make use of their Chinese partners’ bank accounts. A single bank account with dedicated funds must be used. In the case of bank accounts that do not fit the two rules above, overseas NGOs, Chinese partners and individuals must not disburse of receive funds for projects in China through any other method.

If overseas NGOs want to transfer project funds to China after registration or filing, this has to be either to the filed account of the representative office, or to the filed Chinese partner’s account.

Non-profit donors: why do some PSUs and registration management authorities require that funding organizations should be non-profits, and not companies (including so-called social enterprises). This is because there is currently no law defining social enterprises as non-profits, and companies are all registered with the Industry and Commerce Bureau and as for-profit entities are subjected to the “Company Law” and the “General Rules on Civil Affairs”. This is an important reason.

Activities in multiple locations: some representative offices have the whole country as their official “location of activities”, while some only cover a few provinces or a single province. According to the current law, if a representative office that only covers a single province wants to run activities in other areas, it can either expand its location of activities, or establish another office locally. For instance, if a representative office in Gansu that only has Gansu as its location of activities wants to run a project in Anhui, it can either expand its location of activities to include Gansu and Anhui, or it can establish an office in Anhui. Furthermore, the location of activities of two representative offices cannot overlap, so for instance it would not be allowed for an office in Anhui and an office in Shanghai to both have Jiangxi within their location of activities.

Overseas NGOs fundraising in Mainland China: from a legal perspective, the Charity Law stipulates that only charities that have the public fundraising certificate can publicly fundraise in China. Whether its targeted or public fundraising, only charity organizations can carry them out in China, and overseas NGOs cannot, with the Charity Law serving as the basis.

If overseas NGOs in China want to receive donations they must get the approval of the relevant departments, for instance the PSUs and the registration and management authorities. There are some technical problems here, for instance if it is not possible to issue a special receipt for a charitable donation, then the donation cannot be given. This is a problem with the supporting policies on the taxation of non-profits. If there is a foreign-invested enterprise in China that wishes to donate to a project in China, it is possible to find a way, for instance, the overseas NGO can cooperate with a Chinese foundation, and through project cooperation or dedicated funds, it can get the Chinese companies to donate the money directly to the Chinese foundation and use it for the project in China. This is possible according to current laws, there is no regulation forbidding it.

The scope of work: this point is very important. If there is really a necessity to carry out a new activity that goes beyond the official scope of work, I suggest going and changing the scope of work. It should definitely be avoided to engage in things that are not included in the scope of work,  because if it carries out unregulated operations the organization will bear legal responsibility.

The use of names for the organization and activity: activities must be carried out under the name contained in the registration or filing. The name of the organization or activity must be kept the same. An overseas NGO may have different entities abroad, for instance one in Hong Kong and one in the US, but if it is the US entity that registered the representative office and the Hong Kong entity’s name is written in the activity documents, then that is illegal. You have to use the name under which the registration occurred, you can’t use a random name. What’s more, when carrying out a temporary activity you have to use the name found in the filing, including when doing promotion for it. You can’t change it at will, you have to use the same name.

The publicizing of information: currently, apart from the information on the representative office and the temporary activities, the main information that needs to be disclosed to society are the cancelling of registration, and the annual work report.

 

Translation by Gabriel Corsetti

陆璇:新法下国际NGO的合规运营

 

作者简介:陆璇

上海复恩社会组织法律研究与服务中心理事长

 

编者按】:

【简报论坛:2019国际NGO合作与共进研讨会】于11月11日在北京如期拉开序幕!本次研讨会邀请业界权威专家,共同探讨国际NGO在新环境下宏观、微观层面运作发展的生态环境,内容涵盖国际NGO的合规运营、社会需求及NGO自身项目定位,以及人力资源和注册备案等话题。从本期开始,发展简报将陆续发布研讨会嘉宾的现场分享,详细还原研讨会核心要素及重点解读。本期演讲嘉宾是上海复恩社会组织法律研究与服务中心理事长陆璇先生,他演讲的主题是《新法下国际NGO的合规运营》。

 

以下为嘉宾发言摘录:

 

陆璇:非常荣幸接受中国发展简报邀请,为各位分享《中华人民共和国境外非政府组织境内活动法》实施后国际NGO的法律合规运营上的一些看法与心得。

 

首先,讲几点与法律相关的常识:

第一、《中华人民共和国境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》(以下简称境外非政府组织境内活动管理法),从这个法律的名称,我们就可以看出,它涉及到一个外国(地区)法律适用问题。学法律的人都知道有“国际私法”这门课,就是关于涉外民商事法律关系适用的法律。境外非政府组织在国外成立,其法人身份适用登记地法律,这一点非常重要。在母国(地区),依照登记地法律,它到底是不是非政府组织,对于判断这个组织是不是适用境外非政府组织境内活动管理法至关重要?(注:《中华人民共和国涉外民事关系法律适用法》有规定,“法人及其分支机构的民事权利能力、民事行为能力、组织机构、股东权利义务等事项,适用登记地法律”)。这种法律适用问题不仅会在登记注册环节有所反应,还会反映在运营环节,比如境外NGO的捐赠合同到底适用哪国法律?是适用中国的合同法与公益事业捐赠法、还是注册地国家(地区)法律?如果捐赠协议中选择适用了外国法,那么中国法律的那些规定将作为强行法而非任意法,必须强制适用呢?就会出现一个法律适用的冲突问题。(注:《中华人民共和国涉外民事关系法律适用法》规定:当事人依照法律规定可以明示选择涉外民事关系适用的法律。中华人民共和国法律对涉外民事关系有强制性规定的,直接适用该强制性规定。外国法律的适用将损害中华人民共和国社会公共利益的,适用中华人民共和国法律。

第二、在法律实施过程中,配套措施和配套文件的颁布相对滞后,这是中国各种立法的一个普遍问题。一般,立法时倾向于宜粗不宜细,境外非政府组织境内活动管理法配套的释义书、配套文件确实比较少。拿《中华人民共和国慈善法》(下称慈善法)举例,慈善法颁布后,全国人大法工委、全国人大内司委、民政部、参与起草的专家编写了不下六本释义、解读、学习问答,虽然不是“有权解释”,但是从学理上比较全面地解释了每个法条的涵义与适用范围,也密集出台了二三十个配套法规与文件。但境外非政府组织境内活动管理法整个配套文件还是不够多,不够全,还有很大补充空间,也没有释义书。

另外,建议对于中国法律不太了解的境外NGO需要正确区分法律政策的规定和有关部门的具体要求。哪些是法律?哪些是政策?哪些是业务主管单位和登记管理机关的要求?法律是相对固定的,政策是规范性文件,不是法律,也可能会有调整。有一些境外NGO错把有关部门的具体要求理解为法律要求,其实是不准确的,因为有时这些具体要求会随着时间的推移会有所变化,而法律要求是相当不变的。

第三、法律环境发展趋势不一样。不一样的原因很简单,就是整个境外非政府组织境内活动管理法项下的监督管理将更加规范、更加严格,这也是大家认真理解法律的一个很好时机。

第四、能够准确理解境外NGO的涉外律师的参与对法律实施有促进作用。为什么需要有专业的涉外律师?因为境外NGO的代表处人员普遍较少,其律师一般都是总部直接聘用,可以跟总部直接沟通。境外组织在中国代表处的工作人员,也是在授权范围内活动,一些工作人员甚至首席代表也没有百分之百的决策权,很多权力依然在总部。但实际上很多合作交流,需要直接和海外总部法律顾问或负责人沟通,律师按照《律师法》享受法律规定的执业豁免权,受到外国客户信任,加上涉外律师比较熟悉外国法律制度与文化,沟通起来更容易,律师直接和决策者解释有关法律问题,效果会更好。

 

接下来是新法下国际NGO的合规运营的十条重要准则:

第一、境外非政府组织在中国境内开展活动,应当依法登记设立代表机构;未登记设立代表机构需要在中国境内开展临时活动的,应当依法备案。境外非政府组织未登记设立代表机构、开展临时活动未经备案的,不得在中国境内开展或者变相开展活动,不得委托、资助或者变相委托、资助中国境内任何单位和个人在中国境内开展活动。严格说来,一个没有登记的境外NGO,除了在中国进行登记和备案的相关活动以外,开展其他活动都是违法的。

 第二、境外非政府组织在中国境内不得从事或者资助营利性活动、政治活动,不得非法从事或者资助宗教活动。哪些是营利?哪些不是营利? 2017年出台的《民法总则》对营利已经再次明确规定:为公益目的或者其他非营利目的成立,不向出资人、设立人或者会员分配所取得利润的法人,为非营利法人。营利性这个问题跟有没有对外提供服务以获得收入没有任何关系,非营利并不是不允许合理收费,在中国法律下营利的概念和收费及开展经营性活动没有任何直接关系,这个营利与否而在于盈利所得如何分配——非营利组织的资产及其所得,任何发起人、出资人、成员不得私分,不得分红;被注销后,剩余财产应移交给同类其他非营利性组织,用于社会公益事业。这个营利与否的问题涉及到资助项目的合规性。

    第三、境外非政府组织不得在中国境内设立分支机构,国务院另有规定的除外。

  第四、境外非政府组织代表机构、开展临时活动的境外非政府组织不得在中国境内发展会员,国务院另有规定的除外。

 第五、境外非政府组织及其代表机构不得在中国境内进行募捐。慈善法所规定的慈善募捐,包括公开募捐或定向募捐。所以,这里的不得募捐,不仅仅是指不得公开募捐,定向募捐也包括在内。也有一些中国基金会问,定向募捐也是有范围的吗?是的,按照慈善法,慈善组织开展定向募捐,应当在发起人、理事会成员和会员等特定对象的范围内进行。那中国的基金会是不是不能接受企业或者其他个人的捐赠?这个应该没问题。因为,捐赠跟募捐没有一一对应关系,常有一些误解,把募捐当成筹款或筹资。实际上在中国,筹款、筹资是另外一个概念。比如中国的社会组织接受社会各界的捐助,不见得是募捐得来的。

境外非政府组织境内活动管理法对境外NGO在中国境内活动的组织提出很多具体要求,包括但不限于以下五条:

 第六、按照登记或者备案的名称、业务范围、活动地域开展活动。这或者可能是未来行政监管与执法的重点。

第七、保持信息透明。这包括两个方面。一是按照法律要求做到向社会公开,比如公开年度工作报告;二是应当接受公安机关、有关部门和业务主管单位的监督管理,配合政府部门的要求,向政府部门披露有关信息。

 第八、保存好所有活动资料和会计档案。这是值得注意的地方,政府是通过对境外NGO代表机构和临时活动的管理了解其在中国境内的活动,包括财务资料、项目资料都要归档保存。(注:依照《民间非营利组织会计制度解释第1号(征求意见稿)》明确,境外非政府组织代表机构适用该会计制度。实际上现在已经这么操作了。)

这也是非常重要的。因为在有关部门检查时都要看这些材料。平时需要把项目资料、财务资料,包括临时活动备案的项目资料都要妥善保管。同时,包括代表机构的人员变化,都要及时向政府机关备案。

第九、年度工作计划。境外非政府组织代表机构应当于每年12月31日前将包含项目实施、资金使用等内容的下一年度活动计划报业务主管单位,业务主管单位同意后十日内报登记管理机关备案。特殊情况下需要调整活动计划的,应当及时向登记管理机关备案。

第十、年检。境外非政府组织代表机构应当于每年1月31日前向业务主管单位报送上一年度工作报告,经业务主管单位出具意见后,于3月31日前报送登记管理机关,接受年度检查。

 

另外,我还想作一下法律中有关概念的解读:

 

  关于对境内活动的理解:境外非政府组织境内活动管理法第一要问是不是在境内,第二是不是在境内的活动?《慈善法》有关于慈善活动的范围的规定,境外非政府组织境内活动管理法也有一个范围,比如列举了经济、教育、科技、文化、体育、环保、扶贫和救灾八个类别(即,境外非政府组织依照本法可以在经济、教育、科技、文化、卫生、体育、环保等领域和济困、救灾等方面开展有利于公益事业发展的活动。)。如果境外NGO或其中方合作单位自己对即将开展的活动是不是需要做临时活动备案搞不清楚,最好打电话向当地公安部门境外非政府组织管理办公室或业务主管单位咨询。

关于代表机构登记流程及注意事项:法律规定的境外NGO代表机构的登记注册条件包括:(一)在境外合法成立;(二)能够独立承担民事责任;(三)章程规定的宗旨和业务范围有利于公益事业发展;(四)在境外存续二年以上并实质性开展活动;(五)法律、行政法规规定的其他条件。

在境外存续二年以上并实质性开展活动。首先,必须在国外注册成立满两年,新注册机构不行;必须要有实质性活动,这两个都很重要。另外,必须是独立法人单位,比如在香港登记的境外NGO分支机构肯定不行,不符合这几个条件,不能在中国注册代表机构。

 关于临时活动备案:临时活动备案,在实际运作中,结合了有关部门的批准,是比较严格的。首先,境外NGO开展临时活动前要找到一个中国合作方,而且有法定的身份要求。基于境外NGO只能在中国开展非营利活动,只有这四类组织才能做临时活动的中方合作单位:国家机关、人民团体、事业单位和社会组织,公司肯定不能做中方合作单位。怎么进行临时活动备案也是很重要的。有的大学本身就有外事审批权,有些中方合作单位是社会组织,与自己的业务主管单位有非常密切的关系,获得其批准也相对比较容易。对于一个社会组织中方合作单位而言,该单位的业务主管单位对其活动的熟悉与信任程度等因素,决定了临时活动备案的难易程度。

关于业务主管单位:这是绕不开的话题。哪些事项需要向业务主管单位报告获得审核和审批、实际权限等都有规定。总的来说,登记前都要获得业务主管单位的同意,相当于一个前置许可,真正的登记和备案最后都在公安部系统内统一完成。业务主管单位还负责对境外非政府组织代表机构的变更登记事项、年度工作报告提出意见,指导、监督境外非政府组织及其代表机构依法开展活动。行政执法权在登记管理机关即公安部门,业务主管单位只是协助公安机关等部门查处境外非政府组织及其代表机构的违法行为。这些是业务主管单位的工作范畴。

最后再强调一下,在中国的境外非政府组织只有申请代表机构注册登记和临时活动备案两个方式在国内活动,没有任何替代性方式。切记,不要违反规定直接给中国的受益人或合作单位汇款用于活动资金。法律明确规定,设立代表机构的境外非政府组织应当通过代表机构在登记管理机关备案的银行账户管理用于中国境内的资金。开展临时活动的境外非政府组织应当通过中方合作单位的银行账户管理用于中国境内的资金,实行单独记账,专款专用。未经前两款规定的银行账户,境外非政府组织、中方合作单位和个人不得以其他任何形式在中国境内进行项目活动资金的收付。

登记和备案后的境外NGO将活动资金汇入境内的账户,要么是已经注册登记的代表处的账户,要么是备案的中方合作单位的账户。

关于非营利性:为什么有的业务主管单位和登记管理机关会提出要求,资助的机构必须是一个非营利性组织,企业不行(包括所谓的社会企业)。是因为,目前没有一部法律规定社会企业是非营利性的,公司都是在工商局登记注册,受《公司法》和《民法总则》调整的营利法人,这是一个重要的原因。

关于跨地域活动:有些境外NGO注册的代表处的活动地域覆盖全国,有些只是覆盖几个省的代表处或覆盖一个省的代表处。按照现行法律,如果是一个省的代表处,在其他地方活动要么扩大现在代表处活动地域,要么在当地再设一个代表处。比如在活动地域只有甘肃一地的甘肃代表处想在安徽开展活动,要么活动地域扩大到甘肃、安徽两地,要么再设一个安徽代表处。另外,也不能两个代表处的活动地域交叉,比如安徽代表处里有江西,上海代表处里也有江西,这种情况是不允许的。

 关于境外NGO在中国大陆募捐:从法律上来说,慈善法规定只有具有公开募捐资格证书的慈善组织,才可以在中国公开募捐。不论是定向募捐还是公开募捐,在中国都必须是慈善组织才可以从事,境外非政府组织在中国自然也不能募捐,法律依据就是慈善法。而境外NGO在中国境内接受捐赠要获得有关部门的同意,比如业务主管单位和登记管理机关,这里有一些技术上的问题,比如不能出具公益捐赠专用票据,导致无法执行捐赠。这都是非营利组织税收配套政策问题。如果希望在中国的外商投资企业捐助方给中国项目捐款,其实可以采取合作模式,例如,境外NGO与一个中国基金会合作,以项目合作或专项基金的方式,让中国企业把钱直接捐给中国的基金会,用于中国项目。这在目前法律框架下都是开放的,没有禁止性规定。

 关于业务范围:这一点非常重要。如果确实需要开展超越业务范围的新活动,建议大家去变更业务范围,千万不要从事业务范围内没有规定的内容,违规操作会让机构承担法律责任。

 关于机构和活动名称的使用:要按照登记或者备案的名称开展活动。机构或活动的名称要使用登记或备案名称。境外NGO在海外有不同的实体,比如香港有一家,美国有一家,但注册的代表处是美国代表处,如果写活动文案中写香港机构的名字就违法了。要使用登记的名称,不能乱用。再如,临时备案活动名称在登记时叫什么,宣传时就必须叫什么,就不能随意更改,必须使用同一名称。

关于信息公开:目前来说,除了代表机构和临时活动的信息之外,主要包括两类信息对社会公告,一类注销登记时向社会公告,一类是年度工作报告。

Translated by Gabriel Corsetti

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