Publication criticises extreme opinions on outside groups working on mainland In a rare and frank assessment, a leading party publication has laid out the mainland's conflicting concerns about the influence of foreign civic organisations working in the country. A signed article in a recent issue of the Study Times, the newspaper of the Central Party School, criticised the two extreme views of non-governmental organisations in which 'one demonises foreign NGOs, while the other deify them'. It said critics took a biased attitude, saying the organisations 'harboured dark designs', while supporters argued that NGOs had made a strong contribution to the development of the country. The article urged the authorities to conduct a comprehensive and objective assessment before drafting relevant regulations. Rarely seen in the official media, the article devoted considerable length to highlighting the positive roles foreign NGOs play on the mainland, saying their overall influences were 'good, positive, and active'. The article applauded foreign NGOs for bringing capital, experience and know-how, and for helping the country's development. It also praised foreign NGOs for promoting the rule of law. 'This is what is needed for China's development and progress,' the article said. But it also listed the negative influences of foreign NGOs, arguing they threatened national security and damaged political stability. No concrete examples were given. The article said some foreign NGOs had also contributed to the growth of corruption, adding that the organisations 'bear an unshirkable responsibility' for this. It said NGOs had a limited understanding of Chinese society, and were too anxious to distribute funds. It said further that the ability of foreign NGOs to monitor funds and projects was limited, making it difficult to guarantee that Chinese recipients could put the resources to proper use. The report comes in the wake of more than a year of government investigations into foreign and domestic NGOs, which sometimes included frightening interrogations of mainland staff, and which intimidated the organisations, forcing them to adopt a more careful and conservative stance. Nick Young, editor of the China Development Brief, a Beijing organisation that reports on NGOs working on the mainland, told the Foreign Correspondents Club of China yesterday that the close scrutiny of the organisations was linked to fears about the 'colour revolutions' in Central Asia, the Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan in recent years. 'It was quite definitely and explicitly linked to the colour revolutions,' he said. 'The working assumption is that there is an ulterior motive, and that these organisations have plans to overthrow the state.' Mr Young said a survey of domestic NGOs carried out by his organisation - due to be released early this month - showed that while some NGOs were 'spoiling for a fight', most were 'trying to engage constructively'. 'They share many of the government's objectives and agendas,' he said. 'The Chinese government has nothing to fear from NGOs.' Mr Young said he believed the government investigation could have a positive effect in the long run, by reducing the mystery surrounding NGOs. 'It could be that the senior leadership will get the message that most of these organisations out there are actually good guys, they are the best of their kind, they are the best of their communities, who really want to do something,' he said. 'And fundamentally, their objectives are not anti-Chinese, are not anti-Communist Party.' Mr Young said he was optimistic that NGOs would continue to grow and develop on the mainland, but that the road would be rocky.