Published on May 8th, 2012 | by Charitarian0
Prince’s Trust and Palace Museum Cooperate to Rebuild in China
“All social organisations including those involved with human rights and politics will have equal status for registration” announced the Ministry of Civil Affairs today. However China Daily (May 8 ) also stated that “Authorities will review such organisations from angles such as their founding conditions, necessity of establishment, activity objective and their roles in social and economic development.” In other words there will still be sufficient red tape for the government to strangle NGO’s of which they disapprove. Despite the bureaucratic environment in which NGO’s operate in China, the numbers of grassroots organisations continue to burgeon. The last line of the China Daily article (page 3) noted that “After the registration process is reformed, the number of social organisations in China may increase to 1 million in five years, almost double the current figure.”
The government is acknowledging that despite continued regulation of NGO’s, it will become easier to register your organization and exponential growth in the sector is imminent; social issues related to healthcare, education, environment and political freedom would be addressed in consultation with widening civil society. Already we are witnessing a trend by government to outsource social-work to established NGO’s; e.g. Huiling for mental health or Half the Sky for foster care. However, the trend is not confined to the social sector. Take the party I attended on April 29. The objective was to renovate the Emperor’s Secret Garden within the walls of the Forbidden City. The reconstruction costs and artistic expertise required would have been prohibitive for the Government alone. The stakeholders brought to bear on the project were diverse. Creative collaboration between the Directors of the Palace Museum, The Robert H.N. Ho Foundation, the World Monument’s Fund and the Prince’s Charities Foundation had produced a masterpiece faithful to the retreat’s former glory.
Leaning against an ancient monument chatting to two pillars of China’s nascent civil society I was reminded of why I love Beijing. Ben Xu has been working for nine years to develop the welfare needs of children across China. Anton Lustig founded an arts program on the Yunnan/Myanmar border. Their lively stories and immersion in their work reminded me of Steve Jobs in his garage. Xu and Lustig are the Jobs and Gates of the next social revolution; not tech in America, but civil society in China. We wandered into the private cinema to watch the premiere of “The Emperor’s Secret Garden”. Embroiderers from Hangzhou, pulp makers from Anhui and bamboo craftsmen transformed the forgotten corner of the Forbidden City to its original state. Prince Charles said that such monuments ‘make life tolerable’. The inexorable joy which crossed the face of the paper maker as he viewed the intricacies of the grapevine relief wallpaper showed that this was true. If the ‘founding condition’ of NGO’s in China is to make life more ‘tolerable’ for the masses I look forward to the next 500,000.
Picture: Guests arrive at the Emerpor’s Secret Garden party within the Forbidden City
Picture:Prince Charles on video link up at the party