China's first Charity Law takes effect to upgrade industry

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 2, 2016
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When China's national lawmakers passed the country's first Charity Law in March, Zhou Weihong established a charity in Shanghai.

The charity has already helped over 60 impoverished children in the northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang go to school, and with the law taking effect Thursday, the charity projects that it will help more than 100 in 2017.

The new law eases restrictions on the fundraising and operational activities of charity groups, promising tax benefits, and improved supervision.

It is the first time that the way in which charities are registered has been written in to law, giving approved charities more freedom and credibility than ever before.

The law was well received by charity groups and law experts for responding to public concerns.

"The new law encouraged us and made us more determined to carry out our plans," said Zhou, president of Ailawennuan public service organization, another charity that helps impoverished children in Xinjiang access education, and urban life.

China had about 670,000 registered social organizations as of the end of June, including 5,038 foundations, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Annual donations to registered charities in China soared from 10 billion yuan (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) to 100 billion yuan over the past decade.

The charity sector will support the ongoing poverty alleviation campaign, which has the pressing goal of lifting all rural residents above the poverty line by 2020.

As of the end of 2015, 55.75 million rural Chinese were still classed as impoverished, meaning they had a per capita net income of less than 2,800 yuan a year.

Li Bian, co-founder of AIDS Prevention Education Project for Chinese Youth (APEPCY), believes the Charity Law will create more job opportunities and its impact will be similar to the passage of the Corporation Law in 1993.

"Fifteen years after China rolled out its first corporation law, it has become the second largest economy in the world and, it is expected, that in another 15 years, it will have the largest number of social organizations in the world," he said.

Take Beijing for example, the city has over 30,000 registered social organizations, which employ over 60,000 people. With total assets of about 19 billion yuan, the charity industry has become one of the major forces of social economic development in the capital, said Dong Minghui, deputy director of the municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.

The sector still has much room for improvement compared with developed countries, Dong said, adding that more detailed supportive policies are being drafted that will support the upgrade of the industry.

The implementation of the Charity Law will let social organizations play a bigger role in social governance and promote development and innovation in areas overlooked by market and government investment, said Wang Zhenyao, dean of China Philanthropy Research Institute under Beijing Normal University.

He said the enforcement of the law will upgrade China's charity industry, meanwhile, more specific measures and standards are needed from relevant administrative bodies during the actual operation process.

As to Zhou Weihong's charity group, helping impoverished children in Xinjiang and inviting them to Shanghai to broaden their world view is only a tiny part of poverty-relief work.

"We definitely have much more to do," Zhou said.

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