Transnational Civil Society in China
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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.
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Chapter 1: Presence of transnational civil society in China

Chen Jie


This chapter is largely descriptive, presenting a historical, statistical and geographical profile of the transnational actors’ penetration and growing presence in China, and paving the way for the analyses in subsequent chapters. It first gives an overview of the development trajectory of Chinese civil society – its rise, dynamism and evolving relations with the state – in order to highlight the broad socio-political context in which NGOs, Chinese or transnational, operate in the country. However, since the main focus of the project is the transnational actors, discussion of the ‘domestic scene’ concentrates on what is most relevant to the transnational phenomenon, rather than attempting a comprehensive or historical analysis of Chinese civil society which has already been accomplished by many authors. Second, the chapter reviews the interest in China from the prototypical transnational social movements from the late nineteenth century to 1949, so as to put the period under study, that is, the period since the mid-1990s, into historical context, and contribute to a comparative study in the Conclusion of the book. Third, turning to the latter period, a statistical discussion provides information on the growth trajectory, the number, professional fields, country background (or headquarter location), provincial distribution (in China), and connections with local groups of international NGOs and private foundations which have set up projects and/or opened offices in China. Finally, to make the description of the transnational presence in the country more complete, the unique cross-strait relations at the NGO level between the mainland China and Taiwan will be examined.

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