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Cablegate: Service Provider or a Supplement to Government: A

VZCZCXRO8391
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0491/01 3170547
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120547Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7314
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2263
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1523
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1494
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 1683
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 1515
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 1316
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 7913

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SHANGHAI 000491

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/CM, DRL
NSC FOR LOI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI CH
SUBJECT: SERVICE PROVIDER OR A SUPPLEMENT TO GOVERNMENT: A
CONFERENCE ON NGO DEVELOPMENT IN NANJING

REF: A. (A) SHANGHAI 461
B. (B) SHANGHAI 374

(U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified and for official
use only. Not for distribution outside of USG channels or via
the internet.

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Scholars at an international conference on social
welfare in Nanjing said strengthening service-oriented
non-government organizations (NGOs) would be a stable and secure
strategy for NGO development in the future but would have
limited influence in China's political system and promotion of
democracy. A former official in the Nanjing-based Amity
Foundation said government officials remain wary of NGOs and
therefore remain closely involved in NGO functions. The lack of
clear development policies and inadequate financial resources
are the major factors preventing NGOs from progressing,
according to one scholar. NGO representatives attending the
conference called for the Chinese Government to craft a
sustainable policy that treats NGOs as fully vested service
providers rather than merely as supplements to government work.
End Summary.

Nanjing University Hosts 3rd Social Welfare Conference
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) ConGen Shanghai LES Political Assistant attended the
International Nanjing Conference on Social Quality and Social
Welfare at Nanjing University October 24-26. (See Ref A for a
report on other meetings in Nanjing.) The conference was the
third in a series of social welfare conferences held in Asia --
Chiba University in Tokyo (March 2006) and the National Taiwan
University (March 2007) were the previous hosts. The focus of
the Nanjing Conference was to extend theoretical discussions on
comparative studies of social welfare between European and Asian
societies to discussions on NGOs and their role in China. Many
speakers used the Sichuan earthquake as an example testifying to
the positive role of NGOs in China particularly with regard to
the government's role in social welfare, the features of
charitable efforts and volunteer activities, and the environment
for NGO development in China.

Service NGOs: Stable, Secure... and Suspicious
--------------------------------------------- --

3. (SBU) Several conference participants highlighted the
importance of service-oriented NGOs for the future stable and
secure development of China's NGO sector. Lin Ka from Nanjing
Univerity's Department of Sociology, one of the conference
chairs, presented his research paper on "The Power of NGOs in an
Authoritarian Regime: A Study of the Types and Functions of NGOs
in Contemporary China," emphasizing that NGOs are a relatively
new phenomenon in China with fewer than 100 registered NGOs
nationwide until the economic opening of the 1980s contributed
to NGO growth. By 2007, according to a Ministry of Civil
Affairs report, there were 1758 registered NGOs at the national
level, Lin said. If unregistered and grass-roots NGOs are taken
into account, however, the number of Chinese NGOs could reach
2.5 - 3 million organizations, Lin stated.

4. (SBU) Lin identified five types of Chinese NGOs, namely
policy-oriented NGOs, industry associations, charitable
organizations, tenant associations, and service-oriented NGOs.
Of the five types, Lin said service-oriented NGOs are the most
strongly supported by government officials and welcomed by the
public because they help local authorities address social
welfare problems.

5. (SBU) On the other hand, Lin said, human rights and democracy
NGOs continue to be targets of suspicion. Lin therefore
asserted that developing service-oriented NGOs is a stable and
secure strategy to expand the scale and influence of NGOs in
China. He admitted, however, that service-oriented NGOs have
less influence in the Chinese political system and a limited
role in promoting democracy.

Developing Civil Society in China
---------------------------------

6. (SBU) In one session, conference participants outlined some

SHANGHAI 00000491 002 OF 002


of the key milestones in China's development of civil society.
Zhang Liwei, Deputy Director of Nanjing University's Office of
International Cooperation, openly discussed NGO development
since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen Square.
According to Zhang, NGOs developed rapidly during the 1980s but
were much more low-key after Tiananmen, and they changed their
focus to alleviating poverty and addressing basic needs. The
1995 UN Conference on Women was a perfect example of this
changing focus, he said, as organizations involved in providing
services in education, HIV/AIDS, rural development, and
environmental protection met together in Beijing. The Chinese
Government remains ambivalent towards NGOs, however, Zhang said,
as evidenced by the dual management policy announced in 2004
that required NGOs to secure support both from the registration
office and the government department related to the NGOs
activities. There therefore remains strong government
involvement in most Chinese NGOs, Zhang said.

7. (SBU) Formerly an official at the faith-based Amity
Foundation in Nanjing, Zhang added that Amity's volunteers
worked closely with officials of local government departments
and other organizations from the provincial level to the
grass-roots level in order to provide assistance after the
Sichuan earthquake (see Ref B for reporting on the Amity
Foundation). Zhang said cooperation in earthquake relief
somewhat blurred the lines between government departments and
NGOs, and some local government officials were deeply influenced
by NGOs. For the most part, however, NGOs have been confined by
the government to a "supplementary" role, and NGOs are
struggling with a lack of a coherent development policy and
inadequate financial support, Zhang lamented. The future
development of civil society in China will depend on how the
Central Government arranges the dynamics between the government,
private sector, and civil society, he said.

NGO Representatives: We Need a Sustainable Policy
--------------------------------------------- -----

8. (SBU) Several NGO representatives echoed Zhang's concerns
about the future development of civil society. A young Amity
volunteer in her late 20s said NGOs should be regarded as a
"self-sufficient service provider" rather than merely a
supplement to government work. During her stay in Sichuan
conducting earthquake relief work, she found communication
between different NGOs was insufficient and cooperation between
organizations was weak. Shen Limin, Secretary General of the
Shanghai YWCA, called for the government to provide NGOs with a
sustainable policy for development. Wu Jianrong, Secretary
General of the Shanghai YMCA, asserted that the government
should support NGOs as independent entities, but at the same
time, NGOs should establish good relations with the government
and take advantage of government resources. Zhu Li from Nanjing
University's Sociology Department told Political Assistant that
any new NGO policy should lower the entry requirements for NGOS,
allowing them to be established so long as they abide by Chinese
law and are willing to register with relevant government offices.

Comment: Open Discussion on NGOs
---------------------------------

9. (SBU) Scholars and NGO representatives attending the Nanjing
Conference spoke quite openly in public about NGO development --
an infrequent occurrence in China where NGO representatives are
cautious about upsetting government officials. Such discussions
are especially rare in East China where many people pay more
attention to business and economic growth than to the
development of civil society. NGO representatives who attended
the Nanjing Conference said they would like to enjoy greater
operational independence, but they also realize it will be a
while before the Chinese Government grants NGOs more autonomy.
CAMP

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