Global Civil Society Under the New INGO Regulatory Law: A Comparative Case Study on Two INGOs in China

  • Shuoyan LiEmail author
Original Paper


This paper tries to explain why similar International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) have different scopes under the new regulatory law in China. While previous studies have often associated fragmented authoritarianism with more room for civil sectors, the unintended consequence has been largely ignored. The paper argues that while civil sectors benefit from decentralized bureaucratic politics, the conflict between bureaucracies may also become an obstacle. This argument is based on a comparative case study of two similar INGOs whose missions are to solve poverty issues. While World Vision International had difficulties becoming a national organization after establishing several provincial offices with the help of local authorities, Oxfam succeeded and received permission from CPAFFC because it terminated collaboration with other local authorities, which put CPAFFC at ease. The interviews illustrate that competition among different departments and concerns about political risk lead to different outcomes for civil society. Government agencies will doubt an INGO’s willingness to commit to a new relationship if it has too many partners. This implication reveals the complex effects of fragmented bureaucracy on INGOs. The decentralized political structure may lead to different outcomes for INGOs. It is necessary for INGOs to understand the political logic of the new INGO law so that they can choose the proper strategy to maximize their benefits.


INGO China Civil society Fragmented authoritarianism Regulatory law 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Author Shuoyan Li declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sociology and Political ScienceShanghai UniversityBaoshan District, ShanghaiChina

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