International NGOs' China operations hit by registration delays under new law

Some international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China are suspending operations, cancelling events and losing partnerships in the country six months after the government introduced a law requiring them to register with the police.

To register, the groups must first approach a government ministry from a provided list and ask it to become a "supervisory body" that will vet financial and operational details of the NGO’s work before filing them with the Ministry of Public Security.

Beijing says the law boosts Chinese state support for foreign NGOs and only need worry a handful of illegal groups whose political and religious work harms China's national security. But NGOs say the law, which came in on Jan 1, has been a bureaucratic nightmare and appears to be aimed at making it more difficult for them to operate in China. Some NGOs say the ministries are often reluctant to take on the sponsor's role.

Humane Society International (HSI), the animal welfare activist group, was unable to attend the annual Yulin dog meat festival to rescue dogs from being killed and eaten this year, according to its Director of International Media, Wendy Higgins. "We are trying to meet the criteria, but until we receive formal approval we have not been able to have HSI personnel on the ground as before and our funding to our partner groups is temporarily frozen," she said in an email.