Transnational Civil Society in China

Transnational Civil Society in China

Intrusion and Impact

Chen Jie

This book discusses the penetration, growth and operation of transnational civil society (TCS) in China. It explores TCS’ impacts on the incremental development of China’s political pluralism, mainly through exploring the influences of the leading TCS actors on the country’s bottom-up and self-governing activist NGOs that have sprung up spontaneously, in terms of capacities, strategies, leadership and political outlook, as a result of complex interactions between the two sectors.

Introduction

Chen Jie

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights, international politics

Extract

The Chinese community of non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has been going transnational, collaborating with international peers and engaging global governance mechanisms. The evolving record of activist groups’ participation in mega-conferences organized by the United Nations (UN) is a good indicator of this trend. When the Conference on Environment and Development was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, no Chinese NGO attended this so-called Rio Earth Summit. The first grassroots environment NGO was not formed until 1994, when Liang Congjie, citing Greenpeace as a role model, founded Friends of Nature (FON) in Beijing. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002, a Chinese civil society delegation appeared, consisting of 12 activists (two from Hong Kong), each representing one NGO. The dozen, with Liao Xiaoyi (founder and direct or of Global Village of Beijing, GVB) as the leader, and their travel partly funded by the Ford Foundation, caused curiosity from the international media as they behaved differently from the representatives of the government-organized NGOs (GONGOs) and Chinese official delegates. Then the 15th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December 2009 witnessed the presence of a Chinese civil society which had further expanded and diversified. This epitomized the fact that while the country had become the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter in gross terms, its people became more mobilized to tackle the challenge.