Professor Jia Xijin discusses the environment for NGOs in China. Unlike many developed nations, NGOs in China lack a clear legal status. This means that there are a variety of bureaucratic obstacles to their operation, with “service providers” generally having it easier than “advocacy organizations”. Professor Jia discusses some of those obstacles, as well as the creative ways NGOs in China have been able to circumvent them.
Challenges for NGOs in China lie mainly in the policy and legislation aspects, especially in areas related to freedom of association. The challenge that advocacy groups face is to achieve a balance between criticism of governmental policies and the need for government support. Environmental organizations have been very successful on this regard. Additionally, she shows that the government is not unilaterally “Anti-NGO” and there are often different voices at work within the administration. She states that “the government doesn’t have only one voice or department, and it is likely that NGOs can find support at least in one place”.