03/13/2006, 00.00
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Beijing pledges to help NGOs

As part of the ongoing activities of the National People's Congress, the government is recognising that that it needs non governmental organisations that operate throughout the country. A news law should come into effect next year.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – China's central government has pledged to help the charity sector with new regulations, tax breaks and less supervision of the activities of non governmental organisations (NGOs) as a way to plug gaping holes in the country's social security system and help the indigent.

In a country with 50 million disabled people, 300,000 orphans, 150,000 homeless children and more than 100 million elderly people, the decision represents an important shift in public policy. Beijing's economic blueprint for 2006-2010 also shows that the government needs the NGOs.

Until now groups operating in the charity sector had to find a governmental department or agency that would sponsor them; hence the contradictory situation of government-supervised NGOs.

Depending on funding, NGOs fall into two categories—social groups and foundations—under current laws. Sources told AsiaNews that the authorities require initial capital worth two to eight million yuan (€ 250,000 to 1,000,000) for national organisations and 100,000 yuan (€ 12,000) for local groups. But such financial requirements have always been too high for most would-be charities and that was the policy's objective.

Yu Hanjiang, a Hubei real estate company manager who took part in the March 8 between the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference members and delegates from charities, noted that, in addition to the government supervision, a "ridiculous" tax system that discourages donations and makes charitable activations an inconvenience was to blame.

Civil Affairs Vice-minister Li Liguo asked for opinions on proposals for a new charity promotion law.  Mr Li said a draft law would include more preferential policies for the sector and be submitted to the NPC Standing Committee next year.

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See also
Government wants more transparency, i.e. more control over NGOs
Chinese government still suspicious of domestic NGOs
Communist paper praises foreign NGOs
Laos follows China's example to curb NGOs
For Pyongyang children are cheap labour