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07/12/2012 China (Forum 18) – Religious non-governmental organisations (RNGOs) in China face many challenges. They mainly support people such as migrant workers and their families, orphans, and victims of natural disasters, Forum 18 News Service notes. The government encourages this, but also places many restrictions on NGOs gaining legal registration. It also bans RNGOs from overtly religious activity, such as the Theological Education Society raided in June 2012. This has led many groups engaged in charitable activity – like those associated with illegal Protestant house churches – either to not seek registration, or to register as commercial organisations. Despite these challenges, RNGO leaders remain cautiously optimistic about the future.
Religious non-governmental organisations (RNGOs), both local and international, exist in China – but those that are legally registered as non-profit organisations are often linked to either the representative bodies of the five state-approved religions or other state organisations. Both the legally allowed and other RNGOs have mainly devoted their efforts and resources to supporting the neediest people in China, especially migrant workers and their families, orphans and victims of natural disasters, Forum 18 News Service notes.
Most of China’s existing religious NGOs have been able to carry out the activities they have been set up to do. Yet the state does not allow them to conduct religious activities, such as overt sharing beliefs. Activities that can be described as political – such as lobbying to change laws – are also not allowed. Many secular and religious NGOs involved in development work worldwide often see encouraging legislative change as a mainstream part of their work.
So, despite RNGOs often operating quite successfully in China, like all NGOs they face an uncertain legal environment, a generally hostile political environment, and an apathetic social environment.

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