11/26/2011, 00.00
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Guangdong prepares small spaces of freedom for NGOs

From July 1 a new law that eliminates the mandatory requirement of a "government patron" to operate in the social field. A source tells AsiaNews: "A good sign in theory, we need to see if it will be applied and which NGOs will be involved."
Guangzhou (AsiaNews) – Guangdong is preparing to eliminate the requirement of having a "government patron” for all non-governmental organizations that wants to register and then operate in the Chinese territory. This figure is the biggest obstacle to NGOs: often it is a government controller who severely restricts the organizations’ social work. The new law, which should come into force next July 1, covers eight categories of NGOs: several analysts explain, however, that the categories do not include those that deal with human or political rights.

A source for AsiaNews, who has worked for years in the social field in China, says: "It is a provincial law, but should be seen in the Chinese context. Here laws often remain on paper because no one bothers to implement them. We also need to see if by NGO they mean the government organisations, which have long existed, or really non-governmental organizations. However, the fact that we are speaking about it in the country is still a positive sign. "

According to the draft law, which provides for "the improvement, development and management of social organizations", some NGOs may register directly with the civil authorities without the cover of government agencies. Since 2015, most of the NGOs "should be able to operate with a simple government authorization."

For years, teachers, intellectuals and social workers (both Chinese and international) have been calling on Beijing to liberalise the system which, currently, is very complicated and restrictive. They point to the fact that NGOs have a key role in the life and society building. The communist government, however, fears everything that is not under its direct control.

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