On Wednesday, representatives of Chinese non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) voiced their desire to help and be partners of
Li Xiaolin, vice president of the Chinese People's Association
for Friendship with Foreign Countries, made the remarks while
delivering a keynote speech at the "Chinese NGO Forum" held in
"Chinese NGOs have the need and also the responsibility to be
helpful to the government and become its partners, in ways like
helping it draw up and carry out policies," she said.
According to Sun Gonglin, secretary general of the China Society
for Promotion of the Guangcai Program, an NGO composed of private
businesspeople to help reduce poverty, Chinese NGOs act under the
principle of "supporting and cooperating with the government."
Sun claimed they differed from some NGOs in western countries
who "take pride in anti-government practices."
Since 1978, when China initiated the policy of reform and
opening-up, it has witnessed an increase in NGOs, termed "civilian
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, as many as 289,000
civilian organizations had been registered nationwide by the end of
last year, involving education, science, technology, health, labor,
sports, environmental protection and other areas.
"Civilian organizations have become important social
organizations in China and they have exerted positive influence in
boosting economic growth and helping maintain social stability,"
said Li Yong from the ministry.
Ramu Damodaran, chief of the UN Department of Public Information
(UNDPI) Outreach Division's Civil Society Service, said the number
of Chinese NGOs is "staggering."
"They have a tremendous role to play in working closely with the
government, such as helping set up schools and hospitals," he
From 1978 to 2004, China's poor population in rural areas
decreased from 250 million to 26 million.
Chinese NGOs have been involved in a series of programs to
reduce poverty, such as "Project Hope" to help primary school
students in poor areas, the "Guangcai Program" to help develop poor
rural areas, "Rehabilitation Poverty-Reduction Program" to help
poor disabled people, "Project Happiness" to help poor mothers, and
the "Chunlei Program" to assist school girl dropouts to return to
"NGOs have a good base of broad masses of the people. They may
convey the voices of the public to the government to help it enact
laws and regulations," said Zhang Ling of China's Association for
Wild Animal Protection.
Chinese NGOs at the forum released an open letter to the
organizing committee of the UNDPI NGO annual conference in New York
this September, expressing their ideas.
"Especially in achieving the goals of environmental protection,
safeguarding the public and social environmental rights, mobilizing
society to participate in environmental protection, NGOs should
cooperate with and supervise the government," they wrote.
(Xinhua News Agency July 7, 2005)