In a clear attempt to limit Western influence both China and Russia are coming after NGOs. In China, the government has drafted a law placing NGOs under the oversight of the Ministry of Public Security, suggesting the regime now classifies the organizations as “potential enemies of the state.” The law, if passed, will also force burdensome new regulations and taxes on NGOs and give police the power to investigate the organizations’ offices, files, and bank accounts at will. WSJ:
Increasingly, they [critics] say, views of America and the West within the leadership are darkening, driven by fears that what state media calls “hostile foreign forces” are infiltrating the country. During last year’s “Umbrella Revolution” in Hong Kong, a Chinese general accused foreigners of whipping up the student unrest, while the nationalist-leaning Global Times railed against “black hands” from abroad.
Foreign nonprofits are widely viewed as a bridgehead for subversion. Intensely suspicious of any networked activity it doesn’t directly control, the government is especially wary of the grants they scatter that have allowed the domestic NGO sector to flourish.
And in Russia this weekend, Putin signed even harsher anti-NGO provisions into law, building on a law passed in 2012 that had some NGOs labelled “foreign agents.” The new provisions allow the government to close any NGO that it deems “undesirable,” a vague concept that gives a very free hand to the government. Employees of “undesirable” organizations have to stop working or face fines and jail.
These new laws have a wider context. Russia, for its part, has long sought to distinguish itself from the “decadent” West. China’s persecution of Christian churches was motivated by the threat Western religion might pose to the regime and its ideology. The anti-Western bias is now acquiring an even sharper edge, and NGOs are suffering as result.