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China proposes regulations on foreign NGOs

[JURIST] China aims to "regulate" foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under a law being discussed this week, which aims to step up supervision of the fast-growing sector, state media said [Xinhua report] on Monday. The bill, which was submitted to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, running from Monday to Sunday, essentially provides that non-domestic NGOs will have to "register with, and be approved by Chinese authorities if they want to set up representative offices" within China, either permanently or temporarily. The bill also asserts that Chinese governments at all levels are obligated to provide guidance, and policy consultation to assist in aiding NGOs opening, and operating on the mainland of China, as well as punishments for NGOs if they are to violate the law. The overarching theme behind this proposed law is the regulation, guidance and supervision of NGOs activities within China.

Many other countries, such as Russia, have recently enacted [JURIST news archive] NGO regulations and restrictions. Many critics of these laws consider them to be an effort to curb free speech [JURIST report]. The Russian law [JURIST report], signed by President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian] in July 2012, labels all NGOs that engage in political activity as "foreign agents" and requires them to register with the Justice Ministry before receiving any foreign funding. Both former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern over the law's impact on freedom of speech.

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