Elizabeth Knup: the Ford Foundation’s Future in China

by 中国发展简报

中文 English
Editor’s Note
This is a translation of the talk that Ms. Elizabeth Knup, Country Director of the Ford Foundation in China, gave in Beijing on the 6th of November at the forum for overseas NGOs organized by China Development Brief. The Ford Foundation has been present in China for 30 years, making it one of the first foreign foundations to work in the country since the Reform and Opening Up. Ms. Knup herself has worked in China for over 20 years, and her talk was delivered in Chinese. The Q&A section includes a question that was directed at Prof. Jia Xijin of Tsinghua University, and the reply that Prof. Jia gave.

 

WechatIMG286

 

Firstly, I would like to show my appreciation to China Development Brief for organising such an important forum. There are a lot of people here today, showing that this topic attracts much attention within the sector. We all need to learn more about each other and share good experiences.

Most of you are probably quite familiar with the Ford Foundation, it established its representative office in Beijing in 1988, precisely 30 years ago. When we re-registered in 2017 according to the Overseas NGO Law, the most important thing was to find a new professional supervisory unit. Today, I’m going to share my thoughts on two topics with you. The first one is some new situations on the operational level that occurred after registration. The other one is how to think about our further development in China on the strategic level.

 

1. The operational level

After registering under the new law, the biggest difference in the operational process is that there is not as much flexibility as before.

For thirty years, anyone could come and ask for funds from the Ford Foundation, and if their program fit in with our strategic planning and as long as funds were sufficient, we could cooperate on a project at any time. Nowadays however, if we want to add any new projects it must be based on our work plan and the filing process.

I don’t think this would be a challenge for the Ford Foundation however, because all of our work plans have smoothly passed the approval process. What is true is that our flexibility has been limited, and our partners are also influenced, because everyone needs to learn a new way of doing things.

When a project goes into the supervisory phase, the PSB will examine the projects we fund very carefully. Thus, we need to gain more information from our cooperation partners and only then can we report the project to the professional supervisory unit and the PSB.

Meanwhile, we have also needed to make some changes in our internal coordination. For instance when it comes to funding and funds management, the project officer and the financial officer need to do more to coordinate their work in order to satisfy different requirements. This actually has some benefits, because it encourages us to interact and get to know each other better.

Moreover, speaking for myself, there needs to be more communication with the professional supervisory unit. I think this is an important step towards gaining trust.

 

2. The strategic level

At the strategic level, the Ford Foundation has also had some changes. Over 30 years the Ford Foundation has always moved in step with China’s reform and opening up, and focused on programs which can promote the development of China’s economy and society. China is now continuing to open up, but the meaning of “opening up” has changed a little: it not only refers to domestic opening, but also to “going out” to other countries. So, in the future, I think the main emphasis will be on the conditions of “going out”, and on bringing (Chinese) experiences abroad.

Thus, the future direction for the Ford Foundation’s may be to partly focus on work within China, and partly on “going out”, helping some Chinese NGOs to participate in international efforts.

Some think that the implementation of the Overseas NGO Law will limit programs launched by international NGOs in China. However, the changes in our strategic plans are not due to the Overseas NGO Law, but the many changes in the overall global situation and the new developments trends in China itself.

Another challenge we have confronted is that, for the programs we fund, partners and professional supervisory units in different places have different understandings of the law and its implementation. We also realize however that reaching a common understanding is a process which will take some time, and then these problems will slowly be solved.

 

Q&A with the public

 

1. In the future what issues will the Ford Foundation focus on the most, within China and globally?

Ms. Elizabeth Knup: I have just got back from the United States, where I discussed related proposals with our board, and one direction would be to focus on the stable development and internationalisation of Chinese charities. Another important issue is the relationship between China and United States, for instance Chinese and American cooperation in global governance. The Ford Foundation all together has 10 offices around the world, so we can understand China’s influence in Africa and Latin America from different angles, and then help these overseas NGOs and foreign governments understand China better.


2. I’d like to ask Prof. Jia Xijin a quesiton: if for instance the Ford Foundation’s representative office funded a program by another overseas NGO in China, would the transfer be regarded as happening within China?

Professor Jia Xijin: This is how I understand the relationship between two overseas NGOs: if it is two overseas NGOs setting up a program in China together, this is equivalent to cooperative funding, which means that the transfer occurred directly from their respective representative offices to the program in China. If one overseas NGO gives funds to another overseas NGO, and the transfer occurs before entering China, and then the second NGO sets up a program in China, then this NGO’s representative office would fund the program in China.

As for the allocation of funds that happened overseas, even though in the end the money may be used for a program in China, it is the NGO doing the activity in China that bears the direct responsibility, since the funds will be transferred from its overseas headquarters to the representative office, and then the representative office transfers the funds to the program in China. So can that overseas NGO acting as the funder be regarded as carrying out activities in China? The law doesn’t provide a strict definition, however if any providers who contribute to the funds which are sent from the NGO’s headquarter to its China representative office are all regarded as subjects carrying out activities in China, then the law cannot really be implemented. So, as concerns these sorts of indirect funding relationships in which the transfer of funds has already occurred overseas, the NGO actually carrying out the activity in China bears responsibility, and as long as this is reflected in the program plan and activity report according to the law, there should be no problem.

美国福特基金会:介绍中国好经验,吸引世界目光 | 论坛分享

发展简报

编者按:

11月6~7日,由北京益行公益信息交流服务中心(中国发展简报)主办的“《境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》实施2周年研讨会”在京开幕。来自清华大学、福特基金会、香港乐施会、国际救助儿童会、绿色和平、美国世界资源研究所、中国扶贫基金会、中国民促会等业内100多名著名学者、相关领域著名机构代表及资深管理人员相聚一堂,共同探讨国际NGO运作的经验、未来挑战,促进在华国际 NGO 在新形势下的有效运作。

论坛结束后,无论是线上还是线下,众多关注此会的粉丝们都期待着能在第一时间获取相关学习资料。为此,接下来,发展简报将通过双微、官网陆续整理发布,详细还原研讨会核心要素及重点解读。

敬请大家持续关注!

以下为论坛首日,福特基金会北京代表处首席代表高倩倩女士以自家机构视角,谈论在新形势下的有效运作及战略定位(梳理内容有删减)。

WechatIMG286

美国福特基金会中国首席代表高倩倩(Elizabeth Knup)

首先感谢中国发展简报组织如此重要的论坛,今天到场参加的人不少,说明业内还是很关心这个议题。我们都需要进一步加深彼此了解、分享好的经验。

大家可能对福特基金会比较熟悉,福特基金会于1988年在北京建立了办事处,到2018年恰好满30年。我们2017年根据境外非政府组织管理法重新登记注册,最关键的是找到新的业务主管单位。要跟大家分享两个方面,一是注册完成之后,运营层面的一些新状况;二是战略层面上如何考虑在华未来的发展

1. 运营层面

在新法注册完成后,运作过程比较大的改变是没有以前那样灵活。30年来,大家随时来找福特基金会需求资助,如果你的项目跟我们的战略计划是匹配的,在资金充足的情况下,我们可以随时合作开展一个项目。但现在必须根据工作计划,还有备案过程,才可以增加一些新项目。但是,我觉得这个对我们来说不是问题,我们所有的工作计划都顺利通过了批准。灵活性是受到限制了,也会影响到合作伙伴们,因为大家都得学习新的做法。在项目进入监管阶段后,公安部门对我们的资助项目审核非常仔细。所以我们也必须从合作伙伴那里得到更多信息,才能汇报给业务主管单位或公安部门。同时,这也需要我们内部协调多做一些改变。比如在资助资金管理方面,为满足不同需求,项目官和财务官就需更多协调工作。这确实带来一种好处,促进大家彼此了解和互助。另外,对我本人来讲,必须跟相关业务主管单位有更多的沟通,我觉得这是取得信任的关键一步。
2. 战略层面
在战略方面,福特基金会也有一些变化。福特基金会30年来一直跟进中国改革开放有关的步伐,支持推动中国经济和社会发展的相关项目。现在中国要继续改革开放,“开放”这个词意思变了一些,不仅仅指的是国内的开放,还包括对外要“走出去”。所以在未来,我觉得更多强调的是走出去的状况,把经验带到国外。因此,福特基金会未来方向可能是一部分在国内,一部分跟着“走出去”,帮助国内一些机构到国外去参与国际性建设事务。有人认为新法的实施,可能会影响国际NGO在国内开展的项目,但其实不是,我们的战略作出一些改变,不是因为法律的颁布和实施,而是因为全球有很多的变化,中国本身也有新的发展趋势。我们遇到的另外一种挑战是,基金会资助的项目,不同地方的合作伙伴们及业务主管单位对法律的理解和实施,都有一些不同。但是,我们也理解,大家达成共识肯定需要一个过程,再过一段时间之后,可能这些问题会慢慢得到解决。
现场提问
1. 福特基金会未来在中国和全球重点会关注哪些议题?
高倩倩:我刚从美国回来,跟理事会也谈了相关方案,大概有一个方向是在国内更多关注公益慈善的稳定发展与国际化。另一个比较大议题是中美关系,比如中美在全球治理方面的合作。福特基金会在全球有10个办事处,所以我们也从各角度了解中国在非洲、在拉美的影响是怎样的,然后去帮助这些海外的NGO和政府更好地了解中国。
2. 请问贾西津教授,比如福特基金会中国办事处给到境外NGO的在中国的项目资助,算不算在中国接受?贾西津:境外NGO对境外NGO之间关系,我理解是这样的:如果是中国的项目两个共同做,相当于是合作资助;如果是境外NGO对境外NGO的关系,发生在进入中国之前,比如不是福特基金会的中国代表机构给其他的境外NGO的资助,而是在总部那边已发生的。然后这笔钱已在境外完成了转换,在中国再一次发生的时候,需要你的中国代表处在你的境内再拨出来。
并不是所有境外NGO的资金资助都是由中国代表机构发出的,对中国的机构肯定是。但像福特基金会与许多境外组织在海外是有联系的,如果那些境外组织再一次在中国发生项目,那已是进入他账户之后第二步的事情。在讨论到属于间接的中国项目问题,我们可以抛开。我们打比方说一个X,从来就不来中国,但是他给到Y一笔钱,Y的这笔钱是在中国做项目的,那么X要不要向中国政府汇报?这个时候他属于间接资助方。我想如果理论上去延伸,法律上确实没有说间接不算。但是在实践中,应该目前指的是直接资助,否则这条链就追不清。后面所有的都变成需要向中国政府报告的责任主体,那样的话法律就没法实施了。
3. 现在所有的资助款项都是从总部划到对方的总部下,这样做是不是为规避法律上模糊定义的风险?有没有空间可以把这件事情简单化?
贾西津:这个问题又涉及到另外的问题:中国代表机构能不能接受中国境内的资金?不管是来自其他NGO还是来自于中国本土企业或基金会,其实是一个账户的问题。跟刚才那个不太一样,刚才那个是一个资助的问题,现在是接收的问题。
如果法律上认为可以有中国境内的合法收入,那么这个合法收入能不能包括接受中国本土的企业、基金会、政府,甚至说中国合法的其他境外研究代表机构的钱,应该是这个问题。这个没有法律上的答案,我觉得可以和主管部门去商量。如果说大家觉得可以接受,法律是没有禁止的,但法律也没有说你的合法收入可以包括其他境外研究机构的钱,这属于法律没有界定的范围。

 

Translated by Chunzi (CDB)

No related content found.

Share: