non-governmental organizations

non-governmental organizations
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) refer to private, non-profit, self-governing and voluntary organizations. Two broad types of organizations in China fall roughly within this definition, namely, ‘social organizations’ (shehui tuanti) and ‘private non-profit work units’ (minban feiqiye danwei) as defined by the administrative regulations promulgated by China’s State Council in 1998. Official statistics in China show that, as of 1999, there were 165,000 social organizations and 700,000 private non-profit work units in urban China. Numerous such organizations exist in rural areas in more or less organized forms, but there are no statistics on their number.
China Development Brief, a non-governmental research institution based in Beijing, published a special report in 2001 with a descriptive list of 250 Chinese NGOs. These encompass sixteen categories: (1) arts and culture; (2) advocacy and services for people with disabilities; (3) broadbased charitable organizations; (4) civil society development; (5) disaster response and relief; (6) ethnic minority culture and development; (7) education: (8) environment and natural resource management; (9) government, law and rights; (10) health; (11) HIV/AIDS; (12) rural development and poverty alleviation; (13) urban community welfare and services for older people; (14) volunteer placement; (15) welfare of children and young people; and (16) women’s rights, welfare and development.
There is no consensus among scholars as to the nature and functions of NGOs in China. Overall, however, NGOs may be distinguished from the traditional ‘mass organizations’ (qunzhong tuanti). While ‘mass organizations’ function more as the organizational branches of the Party and the government (see mass movements), NGOs are relatively more independent both financially and administratively.
They are able to pursue their own interests and agendas to a greater extent. As such, NGOs represent a recent phenomenon in China. Their development reflects the need in China for a ‘third sector’ to deal with issues and problems that the government and the market are unable or unwilling to confront. In response to the rise of NGOs in China, Qinghua University set up an NGO Research Centre in October 1998 dedicated to the study of this new phenomenon.
Gold, Thomas (1998). ‘Bases for Civil Society in Reform China’. In Kjeld Erik Brodsgaard and David Strand (ed.), Reconstructing Twentieth-Century China: State Control, Civil Society, and National Identity. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Saich, Tony (2000). ‘Negotiating the State: The Development of Social Organizations in China’. China Quarterly 161:124–41.
Young, Nick (ed.) (2001). 250 NGOs in China: A Report from China Development Briefing. Beijing: China Development Briefing.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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