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From Green Shoots to Crushed Petals: Labour NGOs in China

When China hosted the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Summit on Women, who would have thought it would be a catalytic event in the growth of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in China? This meeting of UN representatives from all over the world and activists attending the shadow NGO conference held in Huairou County, Beijing, unleashed a […]

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China’s Human Rights Lawyers: Rifts and Schisms in an Era of Global Human Rights Backlash

While the ongoing human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the dramatic constitutional collapse of Hong Kong rightly demand most of the attention that the news media, international civil society, and democratic governments can pay to China today, systematic violations of human rights continue throughout the country, and Chinese rights defenders are […]

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Unfinished Revolution: An Overview of Three Decades of LGBT Activism in China

In the past three decades, China’s civil society has gone through a series of ups and downs in the context of shifting national policies and geopolitics. The Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing in 1995 was a watershed moment for transnational feminism and LGBT activism.[1] It not only introduced the nongovernmental […]

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Humility in the Pursuit of Tacit Knowledge: Public-Benefit Work in Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development

Zhou Jian kindly agreed to write for us about his experience of almost 15 years of working in poverty alleviation, rural development, and community development in different regions of China. Zhou began this work full-time following the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. In 2012, he co-founded 
the Beijing Gan’en Philanthropic Foundation 
(北京感恩公益基金会) with prominent figures such […]

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Pioneers and Possibilities: Reflecting on Chinese NGO Development through Oral History

As the context in which Chinese nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) operate evolves, and the challenges they face change, revisiting the early days of post–Mao era NGO development (often dated to the early 1990s) can help us reflect on this change in comparative perspective. During my doctoral studies, I had the great luck to be based as […]

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Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative Slowing Down?

Over seven years since China launched its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a widely held view from the outside is that this endeavour has now slowed down. Such an assessment is typically supported by evidence that China’s overseas financing has been in decline even before the COVID-19 pandemic. An influential article published in the […]

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Will There Be a Civil Society in the Xi Jinping Era? Advocacy and Non-Profit Organising in the New Regime

Assessments of the current state of civil society in China elicit a range of perceptions. Some raise alarms about the most ‘stringent crackdown since 1989’ (Howell 2019) and ‘a dark time for Chinese civil society’ (Dai and Spires 2018). Others, though clearly recognising police actions and tighter restrictions, emphasise that the activities of civil society […]

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Railroaded: The Financial Politics and the Labour Puzzle of Global China

Chinese labourers have been a persistent component of Beijing-sponsored infrastructure projects overseas. Going back to the socialist era, they participated in the construction of ideology-based aid projects such as the TAZARA railway in Tanzania and Zambia in the 1970s (Monson 2009). Today, as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) unfolds, an increasing number of Chinese […]

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Explorations in Environmental Protection: A Conversation with Guo Yunzhe

I met Guo Yunzhe in the mid-2000s when we belonged to the same university students’ environmental protection association, Green Hope (绿色希望). I led the association before him; he took over later. Yunzhe currently works for a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) in Yunnan Province focusing on community development and environmental protection. He is also a board member […]

Outsider Within: Young Chinese Feminist Activism in the Age of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom

In early February 2020, COVID-19 sparked increasing racist violence against Chinese communities in the United Kingdom. In response to this, we as Chinese feminists who study in the country initiated a campaign called ChineseAgainstRacistVirus. Along with coordinating posts on social media, we organised a public protest in London’s Trafalgar Square. Four months later, the death […]

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