Fast-track process sees more NGOs

Updated: 2013-09-20 00:15

By Yang Wanli (China Daily)

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The number of civil organizations in China grew 8.1 percent last year, thanks in part to a simpler registration policy.

It was decided during the National People's Congress in March that four types of NGOs — industrial associations, charities, community services and organizations dedicated to the promotion of technology — would be allowed to register without a government backer.

That helped push the number of Chinese civil organizations to 499,000 last year, according to the annual report on Chinese Civil Organizations released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Tuesday.

Academics regard the new rules as an indication of the new leadership's vision of the State's relationship with society, and of its intention to extend the roles played by NGOs and individuals.

According to the report, private non-enterprise organizations — which account for a large portion of civil societies — witnessed a significant increase of 10.1 percent last year. More than three quarters of them specialize in education, social service and healthcare.

Although the system is becoming better regulated, China's civil societies are far from well-organized, said Jia Xiaojiu, deputy director of the China Civil Organization Administration.

He said the development of civil societies lags behind the country's economic development and the current regulation can't keep up with the rapid expansion.

"The official statistics only reveal a half or even one quarter of the real number of China's civil societies. It means that an extra 1 million have not registered," Jia said. "Some of them want to avoid control from the government while others found the registration procedure is not easy."

He also admitted that most registration departments lack sufficient staff.

The number of private-owned foundations in China also kept growing last year — accounting for about 56 percent of the country's foundations.

Lyu Fang, a professor at the School of Politics and Public Management of China University of Political Science and Law, said that government-run civil societies should operate less like State-run departments and more like civil organizations.

"Such organizations should refresh their model of operations and act without privileges. They should really speak for groups of people in society, rather than in the interest of the public sector," she said.