April 15, 2016 / 11:07 AM / a year ago

China to discuss controversial foreign NGO law again

A paramilitary policeman watches a flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square ahead of the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s largely rubber stamp parliament will this month again review its controversial draft law governing foreign non-government organizations, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday.

The draft law, which has triggered a storm of criticism from countries such as the United States, Canada and the European Union, requires foreign non-profit bodies to find official sponsors, typically a government-backed agency, and gives broad latitude to the police to regulate activities and funding.

Parliament’s spokeswoman said last month that the government needed more time to revise the draft NGO law as it was still listening to advice on its content.

In a brief report, the official Xinhua news agency said the law would reviewed again at a meeting of parliament’s standing committee from April 25 to 28.

It gave no other details, and it is not clear if the law will be passed then.

The proposed law is part of a raft of legislation that has alarmed Western governments, including China’s counter terrorism law and a draft cyber security law, amidst a renewed crackdown on dissent by President Xi Jinping’s administration.

The cyber security and counter terrorism laws codify sweeping powers for the government to combat perceived threats, from widespread censorship to heightened control over certain technologies.

Critics of the counter terrorism legislation, for one, say it could be interpreted in such a way that even non-violent dissidents could fall within its definition of terrorism.

China has consistently rejected any criticism of its human rights record, saying it adheres to the rule of law.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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