The draft legislation in Guangzhou city outlining new measures to punish “illegal” NGOs has stirred fears among intellectuals and the civil society sector. The proposed registration law requires more scrutiny and action on NGOs that are not registered with Guangzhou’s civil affairs department. Many NGOs are not registered due to difficulty of getting their registration approved. Hence, many NGOs are registered as businesses – regaining some autonomy yet risking getting closed down.
Observers have pointed out that some parts of the law are vague – and may have purposefully been left so. This allows the authorities to close down NGOs that are not deemed favorably, while preserving others. Professor Jia Xijin of Tsinghua University notes the ambiguity of the proposed law’s terms is deliberate for selective enforcement.
Public interest NGOs have reacted by discussing amongst each other and getting the public engaged through social media as well as handing in opinions to the authorities, since the draft is still open to consultation. Local authorities have assured that they would take reactions under account and that the draft law will undergo refinement and modifications.