Reports from last week suggest that a crackdown on social organizations that are considered to be illegal or to be conducting activities in violation of the law is currently taking place in China.
According to reports in the Chinese media, over 5000 social organizations were recently blacklisted by the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA), with the names of 361 suspected illegal social organizations officially announced by the MCA, 3040 organizations added to a directory of organizations with “abnormal activities”, and another 2285 organizations added to a list of organizations that have “seriously violated the law and broken trust”. Furthermore, 14 illegal social organizations had their websites and social media accounts shut down by the MCA, which had already reserved similar treatment to another nine organizations last April.
According to a report by the Charity Times, the reasons for inclusion in the abnormal activity blacklist were mainly “not submitting to the annual inspection, receiving a warning or sanction for not timely electing a new board, having received a warning or a fine of less than 50,000 yuan, not “rectifying and reforming” on schedule, and being unavailable for contact”.
The report continues: “for example, on November 26, 2018, there were 156 social organizations in Jiujiang City that were included in the abnormal activity directory because they did not complete their rectification on time. On June 25, 2019, 56 social organizations that did not submit annual work reports to their registration management authority in accordance with the prescribed time limit and requirements were included in the directory. On July 8, 2019, Jining City included 42 social organizations that were warned or fined up to 50,000 yuan. On July 31, 2019, the Zhengzhou Civil Affairs Bureau included 24 social organizations that received warnings or sanctions for not timely electing a new board.”
The social organizations that were included in the blacklist of organizations “seriously violating the law and breaking trust” have mostly had their registrations revoked or suspended. According to the Charity Times report, many of them were “zombie organizations” that have not undertaken any activities for at least two years.
“Social organizations” is a broad administrative category that can include NGOs and charitable foundations, but also trade and professional associations, state-organized mass bodies, and private schools and hospitals. Most of the organizations targeted in this crackdown have names that suggest they were trade-promotion or cultural associations. Some of them, however, appear to have been charitable organizations, or at least to have been passing themselves off as such. For example, one of the organizations whose website was shut down called itself the “China Animal Protection Charity League” (中国动物保护公益联盟), while another organizations accused of “abnormal activities” carries the name “Liu Hu Charity Foundation” (刘彪慈善基金).