Shawn Shieh looked into how NGOs in Asia are mobilizing local funding. He shares that the one thing he learned while doing his research is not to underestimate the resilience of civil society.
China has not been fertile territory for civil society organizations since Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, thanks to a wide-ranging and unrelenting crackdown on rights-based CSOs, activists and human rights lawyers, and the passage of a Foreign NGO Law in 2016. The crackdown has led to the detention of many activists and lawyers, closure of rights-based CSOs, and harassment of their family members and supporters. The Foreign NGO Law has made it increasingly difficult for international NGOs to operate in China and support Chinese CSOs. It comes as little surprise, then, that international funding for Chinese CSOs is drying up. What did come as a surprise, however, was how quickly Chinese CSOs adapted to this situation and reinvented themselves to mobilize local funding to replace the international funding that was no longer coming in.