Chinese parliamentary sessions 2014
The annual Chinese "lianghui" of 2014, or plenary meetings of China's top legislative and consultative bodies, the National People's Congress and the National People's Consultative Conference, will take place in Beijing in early to mid-March. The NPC sessions are scheduled to begin on March 5, and the CPPCC meetings to commence on March 3.
Charity donations may become compulsory for all Chinese earners in sector overhaul
An NPC official vowed speedy action on a long-awaited charity bill that would make donations compulsory for every citizen.
Charities have received little attention at this year's parliamentary meetings, but Zhou Sen , the National People's Congress deputy for Henan province, vowed the central government "will take action on the legislation as soon as the two sessions are over".
Zhou wants it to be compulsory for citizens to donate part of their earnings to charity, "much like they must pay tax".
Zhou, the honorary vice-president of the state-backed China Charity Federation, proposed a charity bill at last year's sessions.
Major charitable organisations want a law to clarify the field's legal status, the establishment of transparent oversight mechanisms and efficient, accessible registration.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs submitted draft charity legislation to the State Council in 2011 - the result of six years of debate bogged down by the question of whether charities should be state-supervised or independent. But the NPC has yet to approve it.
The Communist Party's latest work report only said Beijing would support the development of charitable organisations and provide aid to the needy.
Despite the slow progress, Dr Wang Zhenyao, director of the China Philanthropy Research Institute at the Beijing Normal University, said it was "fortunate" the NPC was reviewing the draft. But the legislative process was "relatively closed" and tightly controlled by the leadership.
Zhou, the NPC deputy, said another challenge was the lack of a genuine philanthropic culture on the mainland. "Investors even [use] charity [as a trading chip] with local governments to lure profits, such as winning better land and projects," he said.
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate Cui Yongyuan, a celebrity talk show host who runs the Cui Yongyuan Public Foundation, agreed philanthropy was weaker in China than in other countries. "It is almost useless to have creative ideas with charity right now," he said. "We need to [go forward] one step at a time."