Association

Independent CSOs remain almost non-existent in China, partly due to the arduous registration process for CSOs. People who want to form an organisation must obtain a government sponsor and adhere to prohibitions on actions that will ‘damage national unity’ or ‘upset ethnic harmony.’ The National Security Commission, a state institution tasked to control domestic security issues, monitors the Chinese operations of many international advocacy organisations. Foreign funding of NGOs in China is strictly controlled and the government has closed down many CSOs and arrested their staff. Individual human rights activists take huge risks with their personal safety and liberty. In 2015 alone, at least 280 activists were rounded up, detained and questioned as part of a nationwide crackdown on human rights advocacy. UN experts called attention to the targeting of over 100 lawyers in 2015, some of whom were detained in unknown locations and held incommunicado for days. As of March 2016, civil society monitoring groups estimated that over 300 lawyers and human rights activists were targeted in the latest crackdown, which began in mid-2015. Similar crackdowns on civil society in the past have had deadly consequences for civil society, as seen with the death of activist Cao Shunli in 2014. A raft of proposed new laws, including the Foreign Non-Governmental Organisations Management Law threaten to increase further the tools available to the authorities to supervise and control civil society in China.