China passes first Charity Law

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-17 1:03:01

Public concerned clause may ban individual fundraising

China's top legislative body passed the country's first Charity Law on Wednesday, but the public is still vehemently debating one of the bill's more controversial articles, which may ban individuals from launching fundraising activities.

Though the full content of the newly approved law has not yet been revealed, the law stipulates that "charity groups and individuals without qualification are banned from raising money publicly."

Some people, including Liao Huage, a delegate of National People's Congress, feel that the law is too strict on personal fundraising, the flexibility of which is more suited to the needs of those with personal difficulties, despite its shortcomings.

Chu Ying, a professor with South China Normal University, told the China Youth Daily that despite the fact that individual fundraising is not in line with the direction of future development, it is still needed by today's Chinese society. 

However, Wang Zhenyao, head of the China Philanthropy Research Institute under Beijing Normal University, said fundraising activities by individuals were ruled out in the Charity Law as they often lack transparency and proper means of supervision, and are therefore vulnerable to manipulation by fraud.

In August, 19-year-old Yang Cailan launched a personal fundraising campaign online, raising 96,576 yuan ($14,814) after fabricating a story that her father had gone missing following the deadly Tianjin blasts, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Wang Ming, a professor at Tsinghua University and a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference who participated in the drafting process, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the behavior of individuals raising money for the poor or the sick and who give money to beggars falls under the umbrella of "help-seeking behavior," which is not subject to the newly approved law and, therefore, is not illegal or banned.

The Charity Law stipulates that unqualified organizations or individuals can cooperate with qualified ones to raise funds, but unqualified fundraisers may face a fine of up to 200,000 yuan, according to Xinhua.

The vagueness of some terms of the law, such as the lack of a definition for "qualified individual," has led to various legal interpretations, Liu Youping, deputy head at the China Charity and Donation Information Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The Charity Law was passed with 2,636 votes in favor and 131 votes against the bill with 83 abstentions at the fourth session of the National People's Congress.

It was signed on Wednesday by Chinese President Xi Jinping and will come into effect in September.

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