Western Funding for Rule of Law Initiatives in China: The Importance of a Civil Society Based Approach

By Kellogg, Thomas E. | China Perspectives, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Western Funding for Rule of Law Initiatives in China: The Importance of a Civil Society Based Approach


Kellogg, Thomas E., China Perspectives


What is the role of Western funders in China? This seemingly straightforward question has been difficult for many to answer. For many donors, one particularly thorny question has been whether to channel funding and other forms of support of government and academic partners, or whether grassroots civil society organisations, which are often the key recipients of Western rule of law funding in other parts of the world, should play a more active role.

Both approaches have their merits: given the state's deep involvement in virtually all aspects of Chinese life, meaningful change is often impossible without the state's active participation or, at the very least, tacit approval. At the same time, civil society organisations, even in their current relatively weak and underdeveloped state, can and do play a key role in focusing both government and public attention on issues that need to be addressed, and in proposing progressive solutions to those problems.

In this article, I argue that all Western entities working on rule of law in China - including not just private foundations, but also US and European government-affiliated donor organisations and international NGOs active in China, among others - need to pay more attention to the development of civil society organisations, in particular rights-based and advocacy-based civil society organisations. I argue that support for such organisations can be beneficial not only in terms of the growth and development of the civil society sector, but also in terms of substantive progress on the rights-based issues that these groups address. In some ways, as I will argue in more detail below, rights-based civil society organisations may be more effective in their pursuit of a progressive reform agenda than government-affiliated organi- sations or university-based entities, both because they are able to initiate grassroots-level momentum for change, and because they are able to have an impact on the enforcement of China's own laws, a key weakness that has hindered progress on the development of the legal system as a whole.

I argue that a deeper focus on advocacy-based civil society is all the more important in 2012, for the simple reason that the momentum for government- led, top-down reforms seems to have slowed. In the absence of reformist mo- mentum at the top - save, as I note below, on a few key issues such as open government information and certain aspects of criminal justice reform - the need for creative and innovative bottom-up approaches becomes all the more crucial. I also offer a few suggestions from a practitioner's perspective on strate- gies for deeper engagement with grassroots NGOs in China.

Historical background: Changing China, evolving funding strategies?

The preference for collaboration with government or academic partners has deep roots.(1)The earliest Western donors funding civil society and rule of law initiatives began working in China in the mid-1980s, just a few years after the reform era began in 1978. At that time, there were virtually no civil society organisations in China with which to work - academic and gov- ernment partnerships were almost the only option.

Donor engagement intensified in the mid-1990s, when Western-funded rule of law programming began to be seen as a more politically palatable alternative to more traditional forms of human rights advocacy. In 1994, then-President Clinton famously "delinked" human rights concerns from the annual renewal of China's most favoured nation trading status. Casting about for a substitute for the human rights-trade conditionality that he had finally concluded was unworkable, President Clinton eventually embraced a cooperative rule of law approach as the new centrepiece of his China rights policy.(2)In 1997, the US and China formalised their agreement to cooperate on initiatives to aid in the development of the rule of law in China.(3) Many European countries followed suit around that time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Western Funding for Rule of Law Initiatives in China: The Importance of a Civil Society Based Approach
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.