CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 August 2019

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China tightens grip on foreign organisations

HONG KONG (SE): Although the deputy director general of the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing, Hao Yunhong, said at a briefing of the European Chamber Beijing Chapter on July 21 that the Chinese government welcomes overseas non-government organisations into the country, western governments and rights groups have objected strongly to a proposed Management Law on Foreign Non-Governmental Organisations.

Draft rules released on August 1 by the Ministry of Civil Affairs have been described by representatives of foreign organisations in China as treating them like criminals, as it places them under the control of the Ministry for Public Security, which they claim places them under criminal suspicion as enemies of the state.

Despite Hao’s statement at the July 21 briefing that the Chinese government welcomes overseas non-government organisations, many fear that it will effectively force many of the already existing ones out of the country, as representatives say the wording of the law is too vague.

They add that the language used in the proposed legislation banning activities that threaten national security interests or endanger social stability is too ambiguous and could be used simply to push organisations that the Communist Party does not like out of the country.

Reuters reported on August 3 that state media described the purpose of the new guidelines as to “safeguard people’s freedom to set up social groups and better protect these group’s interest.”

Hao said at the briefing that his department is working on the guidelines to implement the law and to produce a catalogue of professional supervisory authorities that will keep an eye on their activities.

He added that it will release these documents soon so that foreign organisations will have the chance to make better preparations for the final implementation of the law early in 2017.

Snippets of the guidelines for the proposed legislation were released at the beginning of August with the purpose of soliciting public opinion and interested groups were invited to submit feedback by August 21.

The fact that the new legislation comes amidst a much wider crackdown on civil society in general, and human rights lawyers and the media in particular, by the president, Xi Jinping, indicates that the bottom line of the proposed management laws governing non-government organisations is also to squash dissent.

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