Chinese NGO Identifies Shortcomings in Foundation Regulations

February 18, 2005

A senior official of one of China’s largest and most respected NGOs offered cautious criticism of regulations on foundations that were promulgated in 2004. In an interview, an Amity Foundation general secretary critiqued three aspects of the recently-issued Regulations on Foundations.

The new rules preserve a longstanding requirement that foundations seeking to register find an approved Communist Party or government sponsor. This requirement constitutes one of the most serious obstacles to the development of an independent Chinese civil society. As the Amity official notes, the requirement may limit the number of organizations that seek to register. The regulations also require that foundations seeking to operate nationally register as national organizations. Amity, for example, is currently registered on the provincial level but operates nationally. Were it to change its registration status, it would need to meet significantly higher capital requirements. But if it retains its provincial registration, the foundation may be barred from operating outside of its “home” province. In addition, said the Amity official, the regulations are not specific on key issues such as tax deductions and allowable fundraising activities, creating significant uncertainties for foundations seeking to operate within the law.

A detailed analysis of the Foundation Regulations is available in an article appearing in the April 2004 edition of the International Journal of Civil Society Law (pg 110). An English translation of the regulations can be found under "Legal Translations" on the website of the China Development Brief.