Restriction of Civil Society in China

The expansion of globalization, democratic governance, and economic integration has accelerated the capacity of civil society in large number of countries. Thus, for instance, according to reports in Yearbook of International Organizations, the number of international NGOs has increased significantly: from 6,000 in 1990 to more than 50,000 in 2006. The civil society organizations have become the important advocates for democratic government, which provide financial support and assistance in order to establish civil societies. The term ‘civil society’ is defined by the World Bank as the following: “non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations” (Defining ‘Civil Society, 2010). The civil organizations include a wide array of such organizations, as community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor unions, ethical or indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, etc. The modern researchers on civil society, such as Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, argue that there is a relationship between political culture and democratic governance. The development and effective work of civil organizations promotes democratic government and economic development and integration (Zaleski, 2008). However, although Chinese political culture is not compliant with main principles of democratic governance, the national economy is one of the most developed and progressive in the world. Restriction of the civil society in China is one the popular ways to support political order in the country. Although the civil society has not emerged in China, a wide array of non-governmental organizations and social engagements has developed over the last decade. However, most NGOs are controlled by the state. Thus, for instance, in February 2011, Hu Jintao in the speech at the Central Party School declared the social management to be a priority for the Communist Party. One of the major restrictions to the civil society is the media censorship. Mass media including television, print media, radio, film, theater, text messaging, literature and the Internet are censored in order to limit the access to information available to general public. The Chinese Internet policy is ranked as pervasive, while Freedom House ranks the press as not free. Although most mass media have become commercial, the state restricts the availability of the information, which may adversely affect the rule of the Communist Party of China. From the standpoint of the ruling party, the political censorship prevents the spread of unapproved reformist, separatist, or counter-revolutionary ideas. There is also restricted access to information related to past and current failures of the Communist Party. The censorship is aimed at preventing anti-government sentiment. In February 2009, a deputy chief of the General Administration of Press and Publication introduced rules in order to strengthen oversight and management of news professionals and reporting activities. The major rule is to create “full database of people who engage in unhealthy professional conduct” and then exclude such people from news reporting and editing work. In February 2011, Politburo member responsible for the Propaganda …
Posted by: Santos Krishnan

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