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Int'l NGOs in China
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On September 23, Shepherd's Field Children's Village (SFCV), sponsored by the Philip Hayden Foundation from the US and built by the joint efforts of people, companies and organizations from about thirty countries, went into operation.


Located at the Dawangguzhuang Town of Wuqing District, Tianjin Municipality and covering 30 mu (2.43 hectares), SFCV is the largest foreign orphan care facility in China.


For most Chinese, though the achievements of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have benefited their lives, they know little about the people behind the projects


“At present, China has no registration system for international NGOs operating in China, so even the government department has no official figures, but more and more foreign NGOs have entered China since its reform and opening. According to our research, there are over 70 foreign NGOs in the province of Yunnan alone,” Deng Guosheng, doctor from Tsing-Hua NGO Research Institute, told Public Welfare Times on September 28.


Figures from China Development Brief website, longtime attending to the status of NGOs in China, shows there are nearly 500 foreign NGOs opening offices and operating there, but Professor Wang Ming, director of Tsing-Hua NGO Research Institute, said the figure is between 3,000 and 6,500. “They are not registered,” he said.


“Absence of a relevant sound legal system is the biggest difficulty in China's NGO development,” said Wang during a workshop on “NGO Development and Harmonious Society” held in Lanzhou, Gansu Province on September 12.


All unregistered international NGOs share the same problem of having no legal status, which causes trouble not only in developing members and receiving donations, but also in recruiting employees and entry-exit procedures.


Although their status is unclear, their activities are not so affected, and many international NGOs have begun to work together with government departments.


The experience of the Philip Hayden Foundation may be admirable comparing to its fellow organizations. In 2004, together with 20 more international NGOs like it and the Ford Foundation were exempted from taxes by the State Administration of Taxation’s Beijing municipal office.


International NGOs are not simply money-giving organizations


In June this year, the World Bank, in partnership with the government, launched the China Development Marketplace Program, a project designed to support innovations from civil society organizations to reduce poverty by awarding small grants. Till early September, 907 project proposals were received.


“It’s strange to see the budget of almost every proposal is 250,000 yuan (US$31,200), is it for the reason that an official said high limit of the fund is 250,000 yuan? A lot of NGOs consider this chance as a free lunch,” one Program source said on condition of anonymity.


Deng said too much intervention was made by international NGOs when funding Chinese organizations, affecting their independence. “International NGOs are of three types: the first develop projects directly in developing countries; the second always provide funds to indigenous NGOs instead of operating directly; the third type are composite, ” Deng said.


As the first international NGO privileged to set up office in China, the Ford Foundation has an average budge of US$12 million in China every year. “NGOs can’t only be a source of money. To cite a Chinese proverb, we prefer teaching others to fish and they will fish for a lifetime.” Andrew Watson, Ford Foundation Representative for China, told Public Welfare Times.


Under most situations, international NGOs pay great attention to cooperation with Chinese organizations, to realize indigenization though recruiting and training local people. For example, World Vision set up its office in Beijing in 2004 and has more than 440 employees in China, including 390 Chinese people. The Philip Hayden Foundation has a staff of about 100 in China, including 80 or more Chinese.


(China.org.cn by Zhang Yunxing October 23, 2005)

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