China’s first ever Charity Law amendment sent for deliberation, filling in legal blanks for online giving
Published: Dec 27, 2022 10:28 PM
NPC Photo: VCG

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress deliberates the draft amendment of China's Charity Law on December 27, 2022. The laws was adopted in 2016 and no amendment has been made. Photo: VCG

Refining rules for online giving, and filling in legal blanks for individuals seeking donations through the internet, the draft amendment of China's Charity Law was tabled in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress(NPC), the country's top legislature, for deliberation on Tuesday.

Passing the current Charity Law in 2016, China is seeking to make amendments to the law for the first time to adapt to the booming development of internet fundraising in response to public calls for strengthening online governance of individual charitable activities 

With the mushrooming of online donation portals over recent years accompanied by frequent disputes and negative public opinion, the amendment made it clear the integrity obligations of those seeking donations and information publishers, authorizing relevant departments under the State Council to form regulations on managing online service providers.

The amendment came amid some emerging problems in China's charity sector, such as the small donation scales which do not match with the level of wealth accumulation in Chinese society, the ineffective regulations on some innovative charity forms, the unbalanced and inadequate development of charity organizations, the limited response in dealing with emergency cases, combined with insufficient and often poorly targeted supervision, said He Yiting, chairperson of the NPC's Social Development Affairs Committee when explaining the draft amendment.

To protect the legal rights and interests of online charity participants, the draft required specific government departments to distinguish the functions and responsibilities of different platforms after examining the positive practices of designated charity information boards and public internet fundraising platforms. 

"Civil affairs departments should set up a unified charity information platform to provide public fundraising plans. Charity organizations need to publicize online public fundraising information on the platform. There should also be a public fundraising platform designated by the civil affairs departments for donations and donation usage verification, which will serve charity organizations free of charge," according to the draft.

China raised nearly 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion) through internet fundraising in 2021, a fourfold increase compared with that in 2017, according to an official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs at China Internet Good Summit in May. 

The draft also set forth a new charter for emergency charity, asking to establish the emergency charity coordination mechanism and strengthen the responsibility of government agencies in guiding activities in the sector.

Local governments should strengthen the comprehensive supervision of charitable activities, the draft stated. Agencies including departments of civil affairs, industry and information technology, public security, finance and taxation and cyberspace are also required to perform regulatory functions

As of June in 2022, there have been more than 10,000 charity organizations registered in China, with total donations reaching 208.6 billion yuan in 2020, a 155 percent increase compared with 2012, the Xinhua News Agency reported.