Appendix 5 to “CHRD & Coalition NGOs Report Submitted to CESCR” – April 2014

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Appendix 5 to “CHRD & Coalition NGOs Report Submitted to CESCR”:

The Situation of Freedom of Association in China

(Summary in English, followed by excerpts in Chinese)

From The Rights Defense Network

Since the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, new features have become noticeable in the government’s repression of freedom of association. The Rights Defense Network has identified four such features, as manifested by the crackdown on the New Citizens’ Movement: 1) The trend of association has become a key target of suppression; 2) detentions precede charges; 3) charges are becoming technical and depoliticized; and 4) sophisticated punishments have been developed to maximize impacts.

Since March 2013, the deteriorating situation on the ground in China has posed more challenges for domestic civil society organizations and citizens to practice their rights to free association, as follows:

First, The Decision on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Deepening Reforms (adopted at the Third Plenary Session) completely neglects the situation and practice of free association, which shows that the CCP has not considered including these issues on its reform agenda in the next five years. In addition, the Decision concludes the section “Innovation of Social Governing System” with a clause to establish a “State Security Committee,” indicating that the CCP is determined to utilize state security mechanisms to prevent potential problems of association while controlling existing NGOs under its “social governing system.”

Second, the Chinese government will focus on suppressing “overseas associations” (i.e., those registered overseas but operating domestically), overseas NGOs with domestic activities, domestic online networks, and “rights defense organizations.” The last category will be the target of the most severe crackdown.

Third, the CCP has adopted a comprehensive mechanism to control all kinds of NGOs and monitor association tendencies, mainly through setting up Party branches within existing social organizations. This serves to strengthen the supervision of GONGOs (government-run groups) on one hand, and prevent quasi-NGOs turning into genuine NGOs on the other.

Fourth, apart from four types of organizations that may see slightly loosened state administration—industry associations, science and technology bodies, charities, and urban and rural community services—all other NGOs are likely to face unprecedentedly harsh operating conditions. Up to the end of 2016, NGOs will have little possibility to obtain status as independent entities. NGOs will still have to affiliate themselves to administrative organs in order to be considered “legitimate” by the government, let alone operate independently into the future.

Fifth, the government has heavily suppressed the upward tide of free speech online. Without freedom of speech, true freedom of association becomes even more remote.

Recommendations: the CCP must stop establishing new Party branches in social organizations and withdraw existing ones, and departments of civil affairs at all levels can only receive NGO registrations, and should not have the power to approve standards of freedom of association. The government should relax the registration requirements for NGOs; for example, it should eliminate requirements for NGOs to have a fixed location and a certain level of funding, abolish the category of “organizations with connections abroad”; abolish annual review of NGOs; and provide clear guidelines on NGO exemptions from sales tax, income tax, and other taxes.


Full text of the report in Chinese:


卫鸣溪撰写 维权










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