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Going Global: The International Endeavours of Chinese NGOs

On 4 August 2020, a large amount of improperly stored ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut, killing at least 178 people, injuring more than 6,500, and leaving 300,000 homeless (WHO 2020). In response, the Beirut office of the Peaceland Foundation (平澜公益), a Chinese organisation founded in 2018 that already had a presence in more than 10 countries, purchased 600 sets of emergency food supplies and, within two days, delivered them to affected Lebanese citizens (Peaceland Foundation 2020). Meanwhile in Africa, Binbin Yin, a co-founder of the Dream Building Service Association (造梦公益), a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) established by Chinese residents in Kenya, was busy preparing a project to deliver free meals to poor African students and their families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was implemented in partnership with Free Lunch International (国际免费午餐), an international extension of the well-known Free Lunch for Children (免费午餐) project in China—an initiative dedicated to providing free lunches to schools in impoverished areas of the country.

Six years ago, when I was working for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), an international nongovernmental organisation (INGO) operating in more than 30 countries with US$192 million of revenue in 2019 (CHAI 2020), I was just starting to follow the global expansion of Chinese NGOs. At that time, I wondered whether I would ever see a Chinese INGO of a similar size to CHAI in the future. Even though they are still quite small compared with my then employer, CHAI, the organisations in the snapshots above are already of a variety and scale that I could not have imagined back then …

 

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Ying Wang

Ying WANG is a PhD researcher at Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University, with a research focus on the internationalisation of Chinese NGOs. Her PhD thesis examines the role of Chinese NGOs in China’s development cooperation. On the Leiden Belt and Road Platform, she curates the Chinese NGO Internationalization Database, a global map focusing on international humanitarian and development projects of Chinese NGOs. Prior to her PhD research, she worked for the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

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