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China Passed a New Bill on Overseas NGOs

China has recently passed the new laws on the foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) said the state media, amid criticism.

The full text was not immediately available, but previous drafts stated that NGOs would have to submit to police supervision and declare sources of funding.

Critics say the laws amount to a crackdown, but China has argued that such regulation is long overdue.

There are currently more than 7,000 foreign NGOs operating in China.

The bill has undergone several drafts after international criticism that it was too onerous. The White House has said the bill will “further narrow space for civil society” and constrain US-China exchanges.

Amnesty International said on Thursday that the law was aimed at “further smothering civil society”, and called on China to scrap it.

“The authorities – particularly the police – will have virtually unchecked powers to target NGOs, restrict their activities, and ultimately stifle civil society,” said William Nee, Amnesty’s China Researcher.

“The law presents a very real threat to the legitimate work of independent NGOs and should be immediately revoked.”

The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders described the law as “draconian” and said it would have “a profoundly detrimental impact on civil society in China”.

The group said police would be allowed to exercise daily supervision and monitoring of foreign NGOs.

China Passed a New Bill on Overseas NGOs
The new laws could impose police supervision on foreign non-governmental organisations

Xinhua reported the law had been passed by the national legislature on Thursday, without giving details of any amendments.

The state news agency reported this week that some restrictions would be eased, such as allowing more than one office on the mainland, and removing a proposed five-year limit on operations.

However, the other key features were likely to remain, said the Global Times, namely heavy police oversight where foreign NGOs must register with public security departments and must submit to their management.

The Previous drafts have stated that the police would’ve the right to check the offices of NGOs, seal their offices, question employees and cancel activities judged as threats to national security.

Foreign NGOs would also be banned from recruiting members in mainland China, previous drafts had suggested.