On July 25, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Public Security and Civil Affairs co-hosted the Overseas NGO Forum in Shanghai, so as to better understand the development of overseas NGOs in China. Suggestions on improving their services and governance were collected. Guo Shengkun, a member of the State Councilor and Minister of Public Security, made a statement claiming that “the Chinese government highly appreciates the positive role overseas NGOs play, and welcomes and supports their friendly exchanges and cooperation with China. Additionally, the government will provide better services and governance for overseas NGOs, including more benefits and security and better environment.” I have been working at the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO) for 18 years. From previous experiences in dealing with more than 200 overseas NGOs, I have had much dialogue, conflict, communication and cooperation with the staff of overseas NGOs. There was a certain period of time when I lost confidence in dealing with overseas NGOs, but the objective comments on the impact of Overseas NGOs in China given by state councilor Guo Shengkun, as a representative of the Chinese government, greatly encouraged those who cooperate with overseas NGOs and enhanced our sense of responsibility and belief in this mission. So what have overseas NGOs brought to China?
Friends often ask me whether overseas NGOs have a significant impact on the development of Chinese social organizations (namely, NGOs). After 18 years of practice, I feel that overseas NGOs have promoted the standardization of Chinese NGOs’ operations, capacity building and professional talents nurturing. Overseas NGOs also play an important role in guiding and promoting the development of Chinese civil society, by making Chinese NGOs more transparent, self-disciplined, and providing them with more opportunities for exchange and cooperation. This means that the gap between Chinese and overseas NGOs has been narrowed, and they have developed a platform to foster dialogue and cooperation.
In my opinion, overseas NGOs do not merely bring financial support, but rather strengthen China’s soft power. Take poverty alleviation as an example, overseas NGOs have impacted China significantly and have played an active role in the Chinese government’s hard work in eliminating poverty. The World Bank has appreciated Chinese government’s contribution in poverty alleviation, and the UN also praised the Chinese government’s work in achieving its Millennium development goals between 2000 and 2015. Experts have estimated that Chinese civil society has contributed 20% to China’s poverty alleviation. The contributions of overseas NGOs shouldn’t be neglected either. This contribution has taken a number of forms.
First of all, their financial support has promoted China’s poverty alleviation. Generally speaking, overseas NGOs’ financial support has always been an important part of China’s reform and opening up. Taking CANGO as an example, by December 2014 it had set up programs and cooperation with 181 overseas NGOs and international multi-lateral/bilateral organizations, among which 97 organizations from 19 countries/regions have provided 815 million RMB to China via CANGO, alongside matching funds of 545 million RMB from domestic sources. Cooperation projects between CANGO and overseas NGOs have benefitted 118 poverty-stricken regions and counties, covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities of China. 238 of their charity programs have benefited 6.6 million people in need of help. According to the Nanjing Amity Foundation’s data, between 1985 and 2011, the Amity Foundation had cooperated with 25 American NGOs and received a total sum of 200 million RMB from American NGOs.
Secondly, overseas NGOs’ technological support has brought in new modes of poverty alleviation. As is known to all, the biggest advantage enjoyed by NGOs is innovation. When cooperating with Chinese civil society, overseas NGOs have developed new mechanisms and models for poverty alleviation. For example, the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) has been successfully applied in several cases to assist the poor. The new concept microcredit has helped millions of farmers to escape from poverty. Liang Dan, former president of CANGO, once remarked that “the practice and promotion of microcredit have fundamentally solved the problems concerning door-to-door poverty alleviation and the efficient use of funds. It has fostered a sustainable poverty-alleviation method, and once more has manifested how innovation can contribute to economic development and social progress.” Chen Taiyong, from the Heifer Project International, has also told me that since they started working in China, the number of households which benefitted directly from their projects increased from 104 in 1984 to 8658 in 2014. During these 30 years, they altogether supported 110,682 rural households and played an important and active role in promoting poverty-elimination in rural areas.
Thirdly, passing on new notions of charity has changed approaches to poverty alleviation in China. Overseas NGOs have not only brought China funding and technology, but they have also spread new ideas. For instance, during CANGO’s cooperation with overseas NGOs, the clash of eastern and western cultures led to a change in several traditional and inappropriate local concepts. When staff from overseas NGOs set foot in rural China, they sometimes find it hard to understand Chinese people’s enthusiasm and sincerity. For example, a foreign NGO worker once went to a poverty-stricken county to conduct surveys and design projects. When he stepped into the dining hall of the county government, he was very surprised at the lavish reception dinner. Actually, I also felt uneasy while at the dinner table. During our conversation, he told me the following: “Iwill never come back since I don’t know whether our funds will be eaten up by them or not.” This case fully showcases the difference between eastern and western cultures. Especially the remote and impoverished regions seem to get stuck in a vicious circle of “the more they eat, the poorer they become”. Objectively speaking, it’s a cultural difference. The poverty-stricken county had no money, and they wanted to get help from foreigners. They thought a bountiful reception would bring them money and projects. Later I explained to the foreign guest and asked if he could give them one more chance to change his impression. Two years after the initiation of the project, we returned to the same county in question.This time we ate a bowl of noodles. He understood and smiled. Hospitality is an advantage of oriental culture. Through practice, local Chinese people have proven that they can learn from the essence of western culture, which happens to be similar to the Chinese tradition of thrift and frugality.
Fourthly, overseas cooperation has nurtured professional NGOs and talents working for international poverty-elimination. Through program cooperation with overseas NGOs, I have found that they place a great emphasize on organizational construction and the cultivation of talents. Once the traditional mechanisms are abandoned, the basic level construction of organizations becomes very important. For instance, in Yilong county, Sichuan province, through the implementation of the project of Germany’s Caritas CANGO helped establish the Yilong County Development Association and the Yilong county Zhanggong village’s Comprehensive Community Development Association. CANGO itself provides another example. It has gradually cultivated devoted professionals who understand international conventions, program governance and the characteristics of China. Viewed from the basic level, the projects assisted by overseas NGOs have opened up a new channel for grassroots level (in other words, county level) international economic and technological exchange. These programs also broadened the local leaders’ and the people’s vision, and helped nurture managerial talents so as to implement projects assisted by overseas NGOs. Since its establishment 23 years ago, CANGO has trained more than 10,000 program managerial professionals through cooperation with overseas NGOs, which has played a positive role in nurturing local talents for Chinese NGOs.
The above conclusions are far from sufficient, and I hope more friends will write to support or supplement my views. All in all, overseas NGOs have brought a positive influence to China’s economic and social development. They have played a significant role, especially in promoting poverty-alleviation in China and the healthy development of Chinese NGOs.
中国国际民间组织合作促进会副理事长兼秘书长 研究员 黄浩明
7月25 日，外交部、公安部、民政部在上海共同召开境外非政府组织座谈会，了解境外非政府组织在中国发展和开展交流合作的情况，听取对服务管理工作的意见和建议。 国务委员、公安部部长郭声琨强调，中国政府高度赞赏境外非政府组织的积极作用，欢迎和支持境外非政府组织来华开展友好交流与合作，将进一步做好境外非政府 组织服务管理工作，努力提供更多的便利和服务、更好的环境和保障。那我所在的中国国际民间组织合作促进会（以下简称中国民促会）工作了18个年头，从个人 与200多个境外非政府组织打个交道，我与境外非政府组织的人员有对话，有冲突，有交流，也有合作，中间有一段时间感到我从事与境外非政府组织的工作抬不 起头，工作失去了信心。当听到郭声琨国务委员代表中国政府对境外非政府组织在中国的作用有了一个客观的评价，也对我们这批从事与境外非政府组织合作的工作 人员有了巨大鼓舞，坚信我们从事这一事业的责任感和使命感；那么境外非政府组织给中国带来了什么？
很多朋友经常询问我，境外非政府组织对中国的社会组织的发展有着什么重要的影响？18 年的工作实践，我发现，境外非政府组织促进了中国社会组织的规范经营，推动社会组织能力建设和为社会组织培育专业人才，对中国社会事业发展也有着引领和推 动作用，这包括推动社会组织更加公开透明，更加自律，也拓宽了中国社会组织参与国际交流和国际合作；这意味着中国社会组织与国际社会的非政府组织缩小了差 距，找到了一个可以相互对话的机会、相互影响的交锋和相互合作的平台。
我认为，境外非政府组织给中国带来不仅仅是资金方面的支持，而更多影响是对中国软实力 方面的影响，以扶贫济困领域为例，境外非政府组织对中国的影响是巨大，对中国政府加大扶贫力度起到了积极的作用，世界银行也高度赞赏中国政府对扶贫事业的 贡献，联合国在评价中国政府实现2000-2015千年发展目标之中，给予的高度评价；有专家估计，中国民间社会对中国扶贫济困事业的贡献率达到了 20%，而境外非政府组织对此的贡献也功不可没。具体内容有以下四点：
第一、资金的支持推动了中国扶贫济困事业的发展。总体上看，境外非政府组织对华的资金 支持在中国改革开放时期也是非常重要的组成部分。以中国民促会为例，截止到2014年12月底，民促会已经与181个国外民间组织和国际多双边机构建立了 项目合作，其中已有19个国家或地区的97个国外民间组织和国际多双边机构通过民促会向我国提供了人民币8.15亿元的资金援助，从国内各方筹集项目配套 资金人民币5.45亿元。中国民促会与境外非政府组织的合作项目中，公益慈善项目遍及全国31个省、自治区、直辖市中118个贫困区县，其中238个扶贫 项目受益人群达660万贫困人口。据南京的爱德基金会的业务统计，从1985到2011年的26年期间，爱德基金会已经与25家美国的非政府组织开展合 作，共接受美国非政府组织的资金总额达到2亿元人民币。
第二、技术方面的支持，引进新型的扶贫开发的模式。众所周知，非政府组织最大的优势就 是创新；境外非政府组织在与中国民间社会合作过程中，在扶贫济困领域，尝试了扶贫的制度创新、扶贫模式的创新。例如参与性乡村评估（PRA）在扶贫领域中 的应用并取得了不少成功的案例。小额信贷理念在中国西部农村的实施，数百万的农民通过小额信贷的方式摆脱了贫困，中国民促会前理事长梁丹女士曾作这样的概 述“小额信贷在中国人实践、示范和推广，根本解决了扶贫到户和扶贫金使用效率存在的问题，开辟了一条可持续的扶贫道路，再次显示了制度创新对经济发展和社 会进步的作用”。国际小母牛项目组织(中国）的陈太勇告知我，自1984年以来，国际小母牛项目组织在中国开展项目以来，直接扶持的农户由1984年的 104户增加到2014年的8658户，三十年内共支持农户110，682户，为推动农村扶贫起到了重要的积极的作用。
第三、慈善理念的传递推动了中国扶贫工作方式的转变。境外非政府组织给中国不仅带来资金和技 术，同时也带来理念方面的传播；例如，中国民促会与境外非政府组织在项目合作过程中，东西方文化的交融和冲突，改变了不少本土传统而又不适时宜的观念。众 多境外非政府组织的工作人员当他们踏上中国的最基层的土地上，看到的中国热情和真诚，他们难以理解，例如有一位外宾去一个贫困县调查和设计项目，当他步入 县政府招待所的餐厅时，他惊讶，他百思不得其解，丰盛的晚宴、热情的招待，其实这晚餐我也吃得很不舒服；当我与这位外宾交流过程中，他告知“我不会回来 了，不知道我们机构筹集的资金会不会被他们吃掉”。这一小案例充分体现了东西文化的不同，尤其在老少边穷地区似乎进入了越穷越吃，越吃越穷的恶性循环之 中。客观上这是一个文化差别，贫困县并没有钱，他们希望“老外”来援助，来援助当地的贫困百姓，招待好“老外”才可能带来带来资金和项目；后来我向这个外 宾解释说，你能不能给他们一次机会来改变你的印象；项目实施2年后，我们再到这一贫困县检查工作，吃的是一碗面条，他懂了，他笑了，热情是东方文化的优 势，实践证明，他们能够改变他们善于学习西方文化中精华的那一部分，也是我中华民族勤俭节约的传统文化。
第四、培养了一批从事国际合作的扶贫专业民间机构和人才。通过与境外非政府组织的项目合作发 现，境外非政府组织特别强调机构建设和人才的培养，传统的体制打破之后，还没有新型的组织来替代，因此基层的机构建设尤为重要，例如中国民促会在四川省仪 陇县，通过执行德国明爱扶贫的项目，支持建立了仪陇县乡村发展协会、仪陇县张公乡综合社区发展协会。以中国民促会为例，逐步培养了一批既懂国际惯例、项目 管理又了解中国国情并能吃苦耐劳的高素质的项目管理专业人员。从基层的情况来看，尤其是通过境外非政府组织援助项目的实施，为基础（县一级）的对外经济技 术交流开辟了一条新的渠道，为进一步开阔当地干部和群众的视野、培养和锻炼了一批执行境外非政府组织合作项目的管理人才。中国民促会成立23年以来，通过 境外非政府组织的项目合作，经过中国民促会的培训的项目管理人才已经超过了1万余名，为中国社会组织人才的培养起到了积极的作用。