2001 Volume 1 Issue 1 Pages 53-63
This article presents an analysis of the development of NGOs in China. It is comprised of six sections — the concept of NGOs in China, the history of their development, relevant legislation, current status, existing problems and academic research on NGOs. Chinese NGOs are divided into two broad categories: social associations (shehui tuanti) which have legal status and (2) private non-enterprise organizations (minban feiqiye danwei). The latter do not have legal status but are more analogous to the concept of NGOs widely accepted by the international community. Chinese NGOs can also be distinguished by whether they were established by either a "top-to-bottom" or "bottom-to-top" process. The development of China's NGOs has gone through three unique stages in modern Chinese history and their current status has been heavily influenced by the China's rapid economic development since the 1980s. The legal system monitoring the registration and administration of NGOs is evolving. The current system is based on the concept of "duel management" (Shuangchong guanli) that places restrictions on their development. Recent reforms in China have loosened the monopolizing role of the government in providing social services and have created greater operating room for Chinese NGOs. In addition, the dedication of Chinese NGOs to resolving social problems has won them greater acceptance by both the Chinese government and the public. The most active organizations among them often focus on social development. In general, Chinese NGOs are at an early stage of development and are challenged by many organizational problems and financing difficulties. Chinese scholars are devoting themselves to analyzing and evaluating information networks and policy developments in hopes of better understanding and increasing the role of Chinese NGOs. A recently formed research team at the NGO Research Center of Tsinghua University has been applying itself to a large-scale investigation of China's NGOs since 1999. It is also working on establishing a NGO Evaluation System and educating NGO leaders through a series of short-term training seminars.