POLICY BRIEF NO. 3: Developments in February/March of 2012

In February and March of 2012, there was more news of reforms lowering barriers to social organization activity in other regions and sectors.

An Opinion was issued by national-level agencies allowing religious organizations for the first time to establish foundations, social service organizations, and nonprofit hospitals. Yunnan province also announced it would follow the lead of Guangdong and other provinces and cities that are experimenting with a system that would allow social organizations to register directly with Civil Affairs without needing approval from a professional supervising unit.  Professional supervising units would be renamed professional guidance units under this new system, although it is unclear exactly what this means in practice.

At the same time, another news item shows how far China has to go in improving the regulatory environment for social organizations. This article is about Wang Ming, the director of the Tsinghua NGO Research Center and a member of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), proposing a motion at the CPPCC’s annual meeting to carry out more favorable tax policies for non-public fundraising foundations and social organizations, and to promote more government contracting to grassroots social organizations.  He mentions that the Beijing government had allocated 100 million yuan to purchase services from social organizations for 2010, but because many grassroots organizations did not meet the qualifications for contracting, only about 50 million was disbursed.

The article also mentions a related story in the news recently: the continued difficulties that Beijing Huiling, a long-standing grassroots organization serving youth with disabilities, is having getting registered as a social organization in Beijing.  Together, these stories illustrate that policy reforms by themselves are insufficient.  Those policies have to be carried out and enforced in ways that actually benefit China’s many grassroots organizations, and allow more resources to flow to them.

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