POLICY
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NGOs in China

China to boost Communist Party presence in mainland NGOs, trade unions and foundations

The Organisation Department says increasing party membership in organisations will help 'mobilise and educate ordinary people to stand against negative influence and illegal activities'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 September, 2015, 6:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 1:05pm

China’s Communist Party is calling on NGOs, trade unions and foundations to increase the presence of party members within their organisations, state media reports.

The Organisation Department of the party’s Central Committee said the initiative to strengthen party organs in such organisations was necessary to “guide them in the right political direction” through promoting and carrying out party policies, the Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

The party groups installed in these organisations should also “mobilise and educate ordinary people to stand against negative influence and illegal activities”.

NGOs, trade unions or foundations with more than three party members should establish a party branch, while neighbourhoods should also establish branches and organise activities, the department’s statement said.

Those organisations that do not have party members have been urged to recruit more members and promote them to become executives and senior members.

All organisations that respond to the idea will receive tax subsidies and additional financial assistance, plus the return of all membership fees.

However, Zeng Feiyang, director of the Guangdong Panyu Migrant Worker Centre, in Guangzhou, said his organisation had no intention of agreeing to such an initiative.

“We are a social service organisation: such an initiative is against our very nature, since the basic principle of NGOs is that it should be non-religious, non-profitable and non-political,” Zeng said.

“We do not wish to be – and will not be – politicised. Independence is very important for us so that we can provide a social service without political agenda.”

This sentiment was shared by Lam Wai-chi, honorary chairman of Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce in Guangdong, who said the trade union had never been under any political guidance since its establishment in 1993.

“Our board is formed by senior executives from many of the world’s top 500 corporations, and I think setting up a CPC structure within the union does not interest them,” Lam said.

One director of another Guangzhou-based NGO said his organisation had been approached several times since last year by the district-level civil affairs bureau and a local community-based government office, requesting that it set up its own party branch.

However, as it had no existing party members, nothing major had changed.

“I think they’ll come to check with us again, and if we hire party members then there is no way to get around it. But I hope this is not a mandatory action,” he said, asking not to be named.

Additional reporting by Li Jing