China to review overseas NGO law

ngos(IANS) China is scheduled to conduct its third review of the draft law on overseas NGOs on Monday.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) will convene and review the draft law from Monday to Thursday in Beijing. It could be the last review of the controversial law before it is passed.

Insiders who participated in drafting and collecting opinions on the law told the Global Times that the articles requiring NGOs to register under public security departments as well as articles requiring police supervision over their activities are likely to remain.

The draft NGO law stipulates that overseas NGOs should be registered, supervised and managed by public security departments. It also says that police can check the offices of overseas NGOs, question their employees, look at their materials and seal their offices.

Many overseas NGOs said they are confused about why public security involvement was specifically included in this law.

Caspar Welbergen, chief representative of the Beijing office of Stiftung Mercator, a German foundation, said that currently there are already laws about what police or security forces can do if there are violations,.

Chinese police in January busted a legal aid organisation which had received overseas funds to conduct activities that endanger national security.

Other concerns came from the ambiguity of the law, which NGOs said might leave their activities open to interpretation by law enforcers.

Discussion of the law began last October and the law was twice reviewed in December 2014 and in April 2015. Experts and representatives from overseas NGOs working in China were invited to voice their opinions.

There are more than 7,000 overseas NGOs in the country, mainly in sectors such as environmental protection, science and technology, education and culture.

Medaram Jathara

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