China’s 2021 White Paper, China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era, offers a new vision for a more people-centred approach to its development cooperation. While the White Paper extensively discusses partnerships, it only briefly mentions encouraging cooperation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This article argues that NGO engagement in international development activities would improve their effectiveness, a view shared by many Chinese scholars and practitioners. However, challenges exist that constrain optimal engagement, especially access to funding, and a weak enabling environment and policy framework. This article addresses these challenges, drawing from the literature on ‘going out’ among Chinese NGOs and social organisations, along with interviews with key players in the Chinese NGO ecosystem. The article recommends, among other things, that the government clarify and improve its policy framework for NGOs/social organisations in support of China’s international development collaboration, especially regarding funding flows, personnel regulations, and material and capital outflows.
Volume 52 Number 2
Published: November 26, 2021