This article originally appeared on ChinaFile’s The China NGO Project.
One key question many foreign NGOs continue to ask is whether they will be able to reliably use temporary activities to carry out multi-year or other types of long-term programs or grants in China. As any given temporary activity may not last more than one year (except in cases “where there is a need” and permission is explicitly granted), and Chinese authorities have not offered any official guidance on the subject, it remains unclear how dependable the temporary activity mechanism is for groups that plan to fund longer-term projects but do not wish to open a representative office in China.
The China NGO Project wrote last August that at that time around 10 organizations appeared to have used the temporary activity mechanism to carry out a program that was substantively the same as a previous one—that is, in the same location, with the same CPU. (For the purposes of this analysis, we will refer to this process as “renewal,” even though there is no formal renewal process specified in the law.) Since then, substantially more groups appear to have successfully “renewed” temporary activities—using a loose set of counting criteria described below, around 90 activities in all.
These “renewed” activities only account for a minority of total temporary activity filings (about 13 percent of the 1,417 filings in the data reviewed for this analysis), but the fact that there are now nearly 100 of them suggests that, for some groups at least, temporary activities may indeed be a durable method for administering multi-year programs and grants. As always, our data, sourced from the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) website, only shows us successful filings; we do not know if or how many groups sought to “renew” a temporary activity and were unable to do so. Our estimated numbers here should not be taken as hard and fast—as we discuss below, we likely did not identify all of the “renewals,” and we may have counted an activity as a “renewal” that might better be classified as an “extension.” However, our figures can still be useful as ballpark estimates with which to get a sense of how some foreign NGOs are using the temporary activity mechanism for longer-term projects.
Our data cutoff date for this analysis was January 31, 2019. To arrive at a rough estimate of 90 “renewals,” we identified organizations that had more than one activity with exactly the same or a very similar name, that was carried out in the same location, and that was done so in conjunction with the same Chinese Partner Unit (CPU). As this analysis aims to assess whether longer-term projects are possible under the temporary activity mechanism—rather than gauging the success of short annual events such as conferences—we only included activities in which one of the filings, usually the second one, was at least six months in length. The other filing needed only to have been at least two months in length, as it appears fairly common for an NGO to file a first activity as something of a “test” or proof of concept, and later file a longer version of the same activity. We included pairs of activities even if there was a gap between the end of the first activity and the start of the second activity—sometimes even a gap of several months. We do not know if these gaps reflect intentional programming choices or unintentional lapses.
A number of factors, however, may have affected the accuracy of our estimate. First, as we have noted previously, MPS data sometimes contains errors or duplicates, meaning that some apparent “renewals” may in fact be the same filing, with, for example, one old entry and one newer, corrected entry. In addition, temporary activity location information has become less detailed over the past two years (now usually only listing the province of activity), meaning that activities may appear to have been in the same location (province), but could have in fact been carried out in different cities or counties. This would have caused us to overestimate the number of “renewals.” On the other hand, we may have underestimated by not recognizing “renewals” that were indeed the same activity but had changed in name only, or “renewals” that were the exact same project but filed with another CPU for practical reasons.
Using the criteria described above, we found around 90 activities that appear to be “renewals.” Below is a selected list of some of these activities:
|Organization Name (English)||Organization Name (Chinese)||Organization Origin||Activity Name (English)||Activity Name (Chinese)||Chinese Partner Unit (English)||Chinese Partner Unit (Chinese)||Activity Location (English)||Activity Location (Chinese)||Dates of First Temporary Activity||Dates of Second Temporary Activity|
|MISEREOR Foundation||德国米苏尔社会发展基金会||Germany||Public Welfare Professionals Ningxia Community Development Project||公益同行 宁夏社区发展计划||China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation||中国扶贫基金会||Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region||宁夏回族自治区||2017-12-01—2018-11-30||2018-12-01—2019-11-30|
|U-Hearts||两地一心||Hong Kong||Poverty Allevation Financial Aid Visits||「两地一心」扶贫助学探访||Yunnan Huashang Charitable Foundation||云南华商公益基金会||Yunnan Province||云南省||2018-04-20—2018-10-31||2018-12-07—2019-12-06|
|Barry & Martin's Trust||贝利•马丁基金会||United Kingdom||Medical Treatment Assistance Activity with Dali No. 2 People's Hospital||英国贝利马丁基金会与大理市第二人民医院医疗救助活动||Dali No. 2 People's Hospital||大理市第二人民医院||Yunnan Province||云南省||2018-01-20—2018-12-31||2019-01-01—2019-12-31|
|Bread for the World||粮惠世界||Germany||Program to Improve the Ability of Impoverished Women in Turpan to Find Employment||吐鲁番地区贫困妇女就业能力提升项目||China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO)||中国国际民间组织合作促进会||Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region||新疆维吾尔自治区||2017-07-15—2018-07-14||2018-08-29—2019-06-30|
|Hong Kong PHAB Association||摘星计划||Hong Kong||S.T.A.R. Project's 2017 Operation Student Financial Aid||摘星计划2017年助学启动||Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Teng County Middle School||广西壮族自治区藤县中学||Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region||广西壮族自治区||2017-08-03—2018-08-02||2018-08-20—2019-08-19|
|China Candlelight Educational Fund Ltd.||中国烛光教育基金有限公司||Hong Kong||Yunfu City Disadvantaged Students Scholarship Disbursement||云浮市特困学生助学金派发||Yunfu City Communist Youth League Committee||中国共产主义青年团云浮市委员会||Guangdong Province||广东省||2017-12-19—2018-08-31||2018-09-01—2019-08-31|
|Virya Foundation Limited||精进基金有限公司||Hong Kong||Sichuan Liangshan Female Students Financial Aid Project||四川凉山女童助学专案||Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County "Big Fish" Youth Development Center||北川羌族自治县大鱼青少年公益发展中心||Sichuan Province||四川省||2017-11-15—2018-08-31||2018-10-25—2019-08-31|
|Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong||香港中华基督教青年会||Hong Kong||No. 3 Sparking Light—Yunnan Mobile Classroom||燃亮三号-云南流动教室||Kunming City Youth Volunteer Association||昆明市青年志愿者协会||Yunnan Province (Kunming City, Luquan County)||昆明市禄劝县||2017-10-09—2017-12-31||2018-01-22—2018-12-31|
|Tsinghua Education Foundation North America||清华北美教育基金会||United States||Tsinghua University Schwarzman Project||清华大学苏世民项目||Tsinghua University Education Foundation||清华大学教育基金会||China||中国大陆||2017-10-01—2018-09-30||2018-11-01—2019-10-31|
|Wu Wei Harmony Foundation||无为和谐基金会||United States||Scholarship Program for Underprivileged but Excellent Students in Yilong County||仪陇清寒优秀学生奖学金项目||Yilong County Rural Development Association||仪陇县乡村发展协会||Sichuan Province||四川省||2018-04-15—2018-08-31||2018-09-01—2019-08-31|
|Aide et Action||爱达迅教育基金会有限公司||Switzerland||Women's Continuing Education Development Program||妇女继续教育发展项目||Chengdu City Ai Da Xun Social Work Service Center||成都爱达迅社会工作服务中心||Sichuan Province||四川省||2018-09-10—2018-12-31||2019-01-01—2019-12-31|
|Asia Injury Prevention Foundation||亚洲伤害预防基金会||Vietnam||"Love Life, Walk Safely" Street-Crossing Safety Education Activity||"珍爱生命，安全出行"道路安全教育项目||Sichuan Technology Poverty Alleviation Foundation||四川省科技扶贫基金会||Sichuan Province||四川省||2017-11-16—2018-11-16||2019-01-22—2019-11-22|
|The Hong Kong Rehabilitation Society||香港復康會||Hong Kong||Qinghai Province Community Rehabilitation Capacity-Building Project||青海省社区康复能力建设项目||Qinghai Association of Rehabilitation Medicine||青海省康复医学会||Qinghai Province||青海省||2018-01-25—2018-11-01||2018-12-12—2019-11-01|
|The Mitsubishi UFJ Scholarship Trust Foundation||公益财团法人三菱UFJ国际财团||Japan||2018 Mitsubishi UFJ Bank Limited Scholarship||2018三菱日联银行奖学金||Peking University Education Foundation||北京大学教育基金会||Beijing City||北京市||2018-09-01—2019-08-31||2017-10-30—2018-10-29|
|Chang Yung-fa Foundation||财团法人张荣发基金会||Taiwan||Peking University "Friend of Beida" Chang Yung-fa Financial Aid Scholarship and Related Activities Series||北京大学北大之友-张荣发助学金及系列相关活动||Peking University Education Foundation||北京大学教育基金会||Beijing City||北京市||2018-12-01—2019-09-01||2017-12-20—2018-12-20|
|Hong Kong Bar Association||香港大律师公会||Hong Kong||Peking University Law School Common Law Course Scholarship||北京大学法学院普通法课程奖学金||Peking University Education Foundation||北京大学教育基金会||Beijing City||北京市||2018-08-10—2019-08-09||2017-11-14—2018-11-13|
|Korean-Chinese Culture Youth Association (Future Forest)||韩中文化青少年协会（未来林）||South Korea||Group for Saving the Planet's Green Workcamp||拯救地球绿色团Workcamp||Dalad Banner Chinese Communist Youth League Committee||中国共产主义青年团达拉特旗委员会||Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region||内蒙古自治区||2017-04-15—2017-12-31||2018-04-21—2019-04-21|
|Rural Impact Professionals Ltd.||为普顾问有限公司||Hong Kong||Education Financial Aid to Show Care for the Most Impoverished among Yilong County's Impoverished Villages' Left-Behind Children||仪陇县贫困乡村留守儿童中特困儿童关爱陪伴助学项目||Yilong County Rural Development Association||仪陇县乡村发展协会||Sichuan Province||四川省||2018-05-10—2018-08-31||2018-09-01—2019-08-31|