The Chinese government announced Wednesday that it will lift some of its long-standing restrictions for outside nonprofit organizations, potentially opening the door to a greater partnership with these groups.
According to a report on ABC News' website, Civil Affairs Minister Li Liguo said in a news conference that as part of the Cabinet's recently announced restructuring, the government will begin to expand the functions that external nonprofits, which they call social organizations, are allowed to perform.
"Overall, from now on, the role that our country's social organizations will play in economic and social development will be expanded and strengthened," Li said at the Beijing news conference.
In the past organizations would have to find government sponsors in order to obtain official registration that would grant them nonprofit status in the eyes of the Chinese government, allowing them to operate legally, raise funds domestically, and be eligible for some tax deductions. That process will no longer be necessary, Li announced, as groups will be able to register themselves directly through the Civil Affairs Ministry. While Li did not explain how applications would be assessed, he said the Ministry would set up a mechanism to process registrations and supervise and regulate independent groups.
The new changes would apply to nonprofits, charities, community service groups, industry associations, and organizations that work in science and technology. This would seem to exclude organizations that are working to expose environmental pollution or expand the rule of law. It is also unclear whether nonprofits that operate in other "sensitive" areas, such as AIDS prevention, would be treated differently. Such nonprofits are frequently reported as being harassed by local police and tax authorities.
Lu Jun, organizer of the anti-discrimination group Yirenping, acknowledged to The Associated Press that the new changes indicate that the Chinese government doesn't view all nonprofits as a threat now. Still, he said that by seemingly excluding these more sensitive groups, China still has a long way to go.
"Not opening up to these kinds of organizations is a huge flaw," he reportedly told the AP.
You can read the full story on ABC News' website.