Legal Center for NGO
1. Should communication and cooperation between schools, hospitals, scientific and engineering technology research institutions or academic organizations overseas and their counterparts in China be subject to the Law on the Management of the Activities of overseas NGOs within Mainland China?
Briefly speaking, it should not.
This law has a clear definition of overseas NGOs, which refers to non-profit, non-governmental social organizations such as foundations, social groups and think tanks that have been lawfully established outside of Mainland China. Overseas schools, hospitals, scientific and engineering technology research institutions and academic organizations are not subject to this law, but should obey China’s relevant rules and regulations.
As stipulated in Article 5 of this law, overseas NGOs that conduct activities in China shall operate according to Chinese laws; not threaten China’s security or national and ethnic unity; and not harm China’s national interests, societal public interests, and the legal rights of citizens, legal persons and other groups. Furthermore, overseas NGOs that conduct activities in Mainland China must not engage in or fund for-profit activities or political activities. They must also not illegally conduct or fund religious activities.
2. How does the Law on the Management of the Activities of Overseas NGOs within Mainland China influence overseas foundations’ funding to mainland NGOs?
Overseas NGOs have to legally register and establish a representative office or file for temporary activities.
As stipulated in Article 9 of this law, overseas NGOs that conduct activities in China shall legally register and establish a representative office. Unregistered overseas NGOs that wish to conduct temporary activities in China shall legally file a record. It is prohibited for overseas NGOs that have not registered and established a representative office or filed for temporary activities to conduct or covertly conduct activities within China, or commission or covertly commission any domestic Chinese units or individuals to conduct activities within China. If the overseas foundation still hasn’t established a representative office by next year, its Chinese partner should file for temporary activities (the duration of the temporary activities shall not be more than one year. Where there is a genuine need for an extension, a new filing must be made).
3. Can overseas NGOs conduct charity activities within Mainland China in the form of registered companies to escape the regulations of the Law on the Management of the Activities of Overseas NGOs within Mainland China?
No, they can’t.
As stipulated in Article 9 of this law, it is prohibited for overseas NGOs that have not registered and established a representative office or filed for temporary activities to conduct or covertly conduct activities within China, or commission or covertly commission any domestic Chinese units or individuals to conduct activities within China.
Also, according to Article 5, overseas NGOs that conduct activities in Mainland China must not engage in or fund for-profit activities. Therefore, strictly speaking, overseas NGOs are prohibited from conducting for-profit activities within Mainland China by investing to set up companies.
4. If the answer to the previous question is negative, will a foreign invested company be investigated for its overseas background? For example, for whether it has a principal-agent relationship with overseas NGOs?
If this foreign invested company indeed conducts activities within Mainland China on behalf of overseas NGOs, it will be sanctioned.
As stipulated in Article 46 of this law, where units and individuals within China work with overseas NGOs despite knowing that these overseas NGOs have not registered or filed their temporary activities; accept their entrustment or funds; work directly or indirectly as their agents; or help process program operation funds for them, they will be subject to administrative sanctions.
5. What is the meaning of “activity” as defined in the Law on the Management of the Activities of Overseas NGOs within Mainland China? Is there any requirement on the scale of the activity?
There are requirements on the contents of the activity rather than on scale.
As stipulated in Article 3 of this law, overseas NGOs that work in fields such as the economy, education, science and technology, culture, health, sports, environmental protection and in areas such as poverty alleviation and disaster relief may carry out activities that legally aid the development of public welfare in accordance with this law.
As stipulated in Article 5 of this law, overseas NGOs that conduct activities in Mainland China must not engage in or fund for-profit activities or political activities. They must also not illegally conduct or fund religious activities.
6. What are the dos and don’ts for foreign invested companies in funding overseas NGOs to conduct activities in Mainland China?
Overseas NGOs must file for temporary activities or establish a representative office in Mainland China. As stipulated in Article 46 of this law, where units and individuals within China work with overseas NGOs despite knowing that these overseas NGOs have not registered or filed their temporary activities, they will be subject to administrative sanctions. Funding overseas NGOs to conduct activities in Mainland China can also be considered as a form of cooperation.
By the way, as stipulated in Article 21 of this law, unless otherwise regulated for by the State Council, overseas NGOs and their representative offices in China shall not conduct fundraising activities within China. But the final law does not stipulate that they can’t “accept donations from within Mainland China” like the Second Draft of this law did.
7. Can companies act as Chinese partner organizations of overseas NGOs? How can Chinese partner organizations assist overseas NGOs to obtain temporary activity permission?
No, they can’t. As stipulated in Article 16 of this law, only the following four types of organizations can serve as Chinese partners: Chinese state authorities, mass organizations, public institutions and social organizations. Neither individuals nor companies can serve as Chinese partner organizations.
When overseas NGOs wish to conduct temporary activities, the Chinese partner organizations shall go through approval procedures according to national regulations and file documents to local registration management authorities within 15 days, and shall submit the following documents to the registration management authorities:
(1) Proof of the legal establishment of the overseas NGO;
(2) A written agreement between the overseas NGO and the Chinese partner organization;
(3) Documents showing the name, aim, location and period of the temporary activity;
(4) Project funding, proof of funding sources and the bank account of the Chinese partner organization;
(5) Approval documents acquired by the Chinese partner organization;
(6) Other documentation required by other laws or regulations.
Where temporary activities are required due to emergencies such as disaster relief, the filing period is not limited by the previous article.
Further explanations by the government will be needed to determine which national regulation Chinese partner organizations should base themselves on to apply for an approval document, and to whom social organizations should apply for an approval to cooperate with overseas NGOs.
8. What are the dos and don’ts for foreign invested companies to carry out cooperative projects with overseas NGOs in Mainland China?
Check the registration certificates of the representative offices of the overseas NGO. Hire a lawyer to do a due diligence investigation on the history of the representative office of the overseas NGO, and make sure the office has no criminal record.
9. How does an overseas NGO establish a representative office in Mainland China? What are the requirements?
- Overseas NGOs that meet the following requirements may apply to register and establish a representative office in China according to the scope of their work and the location and needs of their activities:
(1) The NGO was lawfully established outside of Mainland China;
(2) The NGO is independently able to assume civil liability;
(3) The NGO’s aims and scope of activities as stipulated in the organizational charter are beneficial to the development of the public benefit sector;
(4) The NGO has been in existence for a continuous period of at least two years outside of Mainland China and has conducted substantial activities during that time;
(5) Conditions provided by other laws or regulations.
- The procedures to establish representative offices:
(1) The approval documents and a list of Professional Supervisory Units shall be published by the Public Security Department of the State Council and provincial level public security authorities, together with relevant departments.
(2) Overseas NGOs shall apply to register a representative office with the registration management authorities within 30 days of formally identifying and getting approval from a Professional Supervisory Unit.
The registration management authorities that review the application of overseas NGOs to establish a representative office in China may commission experts to conduct a review if this is deemed necessary.
The registration management authorities shall issue a decision within 60 days of receiving an application.
- NGOs shall submit the following documents to the registration management authorities:
(1) A completed application form;
(2) Documentation and other evidence that the overseas NGO meets the conditions set out in Article 10 of this law;
(3) Identification documents for the chief representative of the proposed overseas NGO representative office, a CV and proof or a statement that shows that he or she has no criminal record;
(4) Documentation that states the address of the overseas NGO’s proposed representative office.
(5) Documentation that shows the funding sources of the overseas NGO;
(6) Documentation that shows an agreement from a Professional Supervisory Unit to supervise the overseas NGO’s proposed representative office;
(7) Any documentation and material required by other laws or regulations.
10. How about overseas NGOs that have already registered as private non-enterprise units in Mainland China. Will the law have any impact on them?
The impact will be minimal. According to Xinhua News, the second draft of this law had offered in its “Special Regulations” chapter the ways for overseas NGOs to establish or cooperatively establish foundations and societal organizations (民办社会机构) within Mainland China. But some members of the Standing Committees of the NPC and other departments suggested that the aforementioned chapter should be deleted because, as is stipulated in the law, there are only two ways for an overseas NGOs to operate in China: set up representative offices or carry out temporary activities.
After research and discussion, the law committee of the NPC then suggested that the “Special Regulations” chapter be deleted.
The few foundations and social service organizations that have already been registered with the departments of Civil Affairs by overseas NGOs may be retained.
↑简单点说，不受该法管辖。 境外非政府组织的定义，该法有明确界定。该法所称境外非政府组织，是指在境外合法成立的基金会、社会团体、智库机构等非营利、非政府的社会组织。境外学校、医院、自然科学和工程技术的研究机构或者学术组织不受管辖，按照国家其他有关规定办理，除了该法第五条。 该法第五条规定：境外非政府组织在中国境内开展活动应当遵守中国法律，不得危害中国的国家统一、安全和民族团结，不得损害中国国家利益、社会公共利益和公民、法人以及其他组织的合法权益。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。
↑应设立代表机构或具有临时备案。 《境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》第九条的规定：“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。” 如果明年该国外基金会在中国境内还没有设立代表机构，中方合作单位需要配合办理临时活动备案（有效期不超过一年，需要延长的，可以重新备案）。
3.为了规避《境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》，外国的NGO是否可以以公司注册的形式在中国境内开展慈善活动？↑不可以。 按照该法第九条的规定，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。所以，境外非政府组织不可以以公司注册的形式在中国境内开展慈善活动。 此外，该法第五条还规定，境外非政府组织在中国境内不得从事营利性活动。所以，严格说来，境外非政府组织也不可以在中国境内投资设立公司从事营利性活动。
5.何为《境外非政府组织境内活动管理法》中所定义的“活动”？是否有规模上面的要求？↑没有规模方面的要求，但存在内容上的要求。 按照该法第三条规定，境外非政府组织依照法律可以在中国开展的活动包括：（一）经济、教育、科技、文化、卫生、体育、环保等领域；（二）济困、救灾等方面开展有利于公益事业发展的活动。 按照该法第五条规定，境外非政府组织在中国不能开展的活动包括：（一）从事或者资助营利性活动；（二）从事或者资助政治活动；（三）非法从事或者资助宗教活动。
可？↑不可以，按照第十六条的规定，中方合作单位只有四种单位可以做：国家机关、人民团体、事业单位或社会组织。个人或企业都不可以。 境外非政府组织开展临时活动，中方合作单位应当按照国家规定办理审批手续，并在开展临时活动十五日前向其所在地的登记管理机关备案。备案应当提交下列文件、材料： （一）境外非政府组织合法成立的证明文件、材料；（二）境外非政府组织与中方合作单位的书面协议；（三）临时活动的名称、宗旨、地域和期限等相关材料；（四）项目经费、资金来源证明材料及中方合作单位的银行账户；（五）中方合作单位获得批准的文件；（六）法律、行政法规规定的其他文件、材料。 在赈灾、救援等紧急情况下，需要开展临时活动的，备案时间不受前款规定的限制。 中方合作单位依据哪个国家规定申请批准文件？社会组织与境外非政府组织合作，向谁申请批文？这还需要国家作出进一步的解释。
9.境外非政府组织如何在中国设立代表处？有什么要求？↑（一）境外NGO设立代表处要符合哪些条件？ 境外非政府组织符合下列条件，根据业务范围、活动地域和开展活动的需要，可以申请在中国境内登记设立代表机构： 1)在境外合法成立； 2)能够独立承担民事责任； 3)章程规定的宗旨和业务范围有利于公益事业发展； 4)在境外存续二年以上并实质性开展活动； 5)法律、行政法规规定的其他条件。 （二）设立代表处的程序如下： 1)申请业务主管单位的同意文件业务主管单位的名录由国务院公安部门和省级人民政府公安机关会同有关部门公布 2)向公安部门申请设立登记境外非政府组织应当自业务主管单位同意之日起三十日内，向登记管理机关申请设立代表机构登记。 登记管理机关审查境外非政府组织代表机构设立申请，根据需要可以组织专家进行评估。 登记管理机关应当自受理申请之日起六十日内作出准予登记或者不予登记的决定。 （三）向登记管理机关提交的申请文件有些？ 1)申请书； 2)符合本法第十条 规定的证明文件、材料； 3)拟设代表机构首席代表的身份证明、简历及其无犯罪记录证明材料或者声明； 4)拟设代表机构的住所证明材料； 5)资金来源证明材料； 6)业务主管单位的同意文件； 7)法律、行政法规规定的其他文件、材料。
10.境外非政府组织已经在中国设立了民办非企业单位，有没有什么影响？↑没有太大的影响。 按照新华社的报道，此外，草案二审稿“特别规定”一章就境外非政府组织在我国境内设立或者合作设立基金会、民办社会机构作了规定。一些常委会委员和部门提出，本法已经规定境外非政府组织在我国境内开展活动，只能采取设立代表机构和开展临时活动两种形式，这一章的规定应当删去。 对此，全国人大法律委员会经研究建议，删除“特别规定”一章。 至于目前有境外非政府组织已经在民政部门登记设立的少量基金会和社会服务机构，可予以保留。