Monday, June 23, 2014

Beijing targets foreign-backed NGOs in security investigations

President Xi Jinping’s regime is tightening its grip on nongovernmental organizations with foreign ties to prevent the spread of “universal values,” including democracy and human rights.

The Communist Party Central Committee’s State Security Committee has ordered local governments in the provinces of Shanxi, Anhui, Fujian, Shandong and Guandong to investigate the activities of NGOs that obtain funding or personnel from overseas.

The committee was established in April with Xi as its chairman to integrate all issues concerning Chinese national security.

The party’s Commission for Discipline Inspection of Yuncheng, Shanxi province, recently announced it has been carrying out its investigation of the NGOs since April. The probe is scheduled to end in July.

An estimated 1,000 internationally supported Chinese NGOs are operating in the country. Their activities include supporting education in impoverished regions, protecting the environment and helping HIV-infected patients.

Chinese NGOs are referred to as “social organizations” in China and act through the guidance and direction of related government branches.

In February 2011, then President Hu Jiantao advocated a thorough expansion of social services through the development of NGOs to quell social discontent.

Xi’s Politburo initially adopted Hu’s plan and worked on reform programs, such as simplifying the registration process for NGOs.

But the Xi regime changed course this year by emphasizing the dangers of “universal values” and viewing with suspicion internationally-backed NGOs.

According to diplomatic sources, Xi requested strengthened surveillance on the activities of foreign embassies and media in a meeting with local authorities in February.

However, the Communist Party’s reformist members will likely criticize Xi’s move because it only reflects the fears among conservative members about the spread of Western influence through the NGOs, the sources said.

By NOZOMU HAYASHI/ Correspondent


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