According to a recent report by China Daily, Xiao Fenghuai, deputy director general of the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges of the Ministry of Commerce, spoke in Beijing at a two-day international seminar on the role of non-governmental bodies, entitled “Non-State Actors in Asian Development Cooperation: The Role of Non-governmental Organizations”. The April 19-20 seminar was jointly hosted by the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO), the Korea Development Institute, the Asia Foundation, and Australia’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Department. Topics include history and the role of civil society in development cooperation in Asia and the institutional framework for civil society activities.
Xiao said NGOs should act as an important agent of China’s “soft power” and contribute an effective Chinese voice on global governance. He also noted that, with their increasing impact and growing agenda, NGOs had become a significant force in tackling global issues. He said China is gradually moving away from a government-oriented approach on foreign aid and is trying to bring more non-governmental organizations into the field.
According to the report, China had about 662,000 registered NGOs by the end of 2015, of which 516 – or less than one per cent – were involved in the field of foreign relations. Some 30 senior officials from Chinese NGOs are attending, along with representatives of NGOs and international organizations from 10 other countries, including Japan, the United States and Australia.