China Gives Police Broad Powers Over Foreign Nonprofits

Ministry of Public Security is put in charge of registering the overseas groups, and police are authorized to search offices

By Josh Chin for the Wall Street Journal

BEIJING—Chinese legislators passed a law on Thursday granting police broad authority to supervise foreign nonprofit groups, reinforcing President Xi Jinping’s drive to consolidate government control over China’s society, culture and economy.

The law says any activities of foreign nonprofits that threaten national security or ethnic harmony will be punished. A draft of the law released last year drew an outpouring of opposition from foreign governments, rights groups, business associations and academics for being overly broad and treating foreign nonprofits as a security threat.

The Obama administration reacted quickly and sternly to the law’s passage, warning that while it was better than earlier versions, it would constrict contacts between individuals and groups in the U.S. and China.

“We urge China to respect the rights and freedoms of human rights defenders, journalists, business groups, development professionals, and all others who make up civil society, including by protecting the ability of foreign NGOs to operate in China,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said.

The tenor and aim of the new law fits with a wide-ranging campaign under Mr. Xi to galvanize Chinese society against foreign ideologies and influence and to bolster support for Communist Party rule. Since Mr. Xi came to power, authorities have detained or interrogated scores of human-rights lawyers and other activists who promote Western-style rule of law.

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