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Analysis on the Effect of China’s Overseas NGO Law under the Differences in Legal Thinking

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The Law on the Management of Overseas NGOs’ Activities in Mainland China has come into effect on January 1, 2017. Ever since its second draft was unveiled to the public and then the final draft was adopted, Chinese and international civil society organizations have expressed their concerns and criticisms, far beyond the expectation of the Chinese government that intends to regulate illegal activities and protect legitimate rights with this law. This paper argues that the unexpected responses are provoked not only by the political purpose behind the adoption of this law – to safeguard national security – but also by the different interpretations of the law due to the differences in legal thinking. Beginning with an analysis of the law’s text, this paper continues to look at the regulatory framework and what has provoked the unexpected responses from the public, examines the differences in legal thinking – an underlying issue in this regard, and proposes that to ensure the effective enforcement of the law efforts should be made in three aspects, i.e. making clarification, establishing standard procedures, and protecting rights, to settle the idea differences between the legislature and the overseas civil society.

Affiliations: 1: Tsinghua University


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1. Belkin Ira, Cohen Jerome A."“Will China Close Its Doors?”" New York Times 2015 June 2
2. Editorial"“Undue burdens”" Nature 2015Vol 522 127 128
3. Gao Bingzhong"“Emergence of Social Groups and Their Legitimacy”" Social Sciences in China 2000Vol 2 104 108
4. Hsu Carolyn L., Teets Jessica C. "“Is China’s New Overseas NGO Management Law Sounding the Death Knell for Civil Society? Maybe Not”" The Asia-Pacific Journal 2016 February 16Vol Vol. 14 Issue 4 2016 No. 3
5. Rutzen Douglas"“Aid Barriers and the Rise of Philanthropic Protectionism”" International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law 2015Vol 17 5 44
6. Wong Gillian"“U.S. Business, Professional Groups Sign Letter Opposing Draft China ngo Law”" Wall Street Journal 2015 June 4
7. Zi Ming"“Seven questions about the second draft of the Overseas NGO Law”" 2015 May 7

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