One country, many diasporas

February 11, 2008 - 3:00am -- Nick Young

The following paper was commissioned by the Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium for a conference in Vietnam in May, 2008. [Endnote 1]. It serves as an update for—but does not need to be read in conjunction with—an earlier book chapter also distributed at the conference: Philanthropic Links Between the Chinese Diaspora and the People's Republic of China, co-authored by June Shih, which appeared in Diaspora Philanthropy and Equitable Development in China and India (Geithner P F, Chen L C, Johnson PD eds., 2005, Harvard University Press.)

The four years since this essay was written have seen consolidation and development of, rather than departure from, the basic patterns it describes. However, republication provides an opportunity to discuss three factors that increasingly shape debate and action in this field: one, the impacts of China’s “rise” (and global perceptions of it) on relations between the country and its diaspora; two, increasing inequality and social exclusion within China and the questions this raises for philanthropy; three, the ongoing–yet in important ways constrained–development of philanthropy and civil society within China. This introduction will conclude by considering the way in which diverging historical experience is now reflected in distinct patterns of diaspora giving.

“Awakened giant” syndrome

Over the last few years China’s fast-forward development has attracted growing, global attention, not least because few places on earth remains entirely untouched by the economic and environmental impacts of this awakened giant. International reactions range from the overtly hostile through the pragmatic and cautiously optimistic to the frankly admiring [2].

One likely result of China’s growing global stature will be the winding down of development assistance programs in China funded by foreign governments [3]. This is not necessarily the choice of those governments’ policymakers, many of whom see China’s growing global importance as all the more reason to influence, through aid programs, the way that the nation develops. However, voters in donor countries are more inclined to reason that any fraction of their tax contributions spent on overseas aid should go to poorer countries than China, and some influential opinion makers encourage this view [4]. Thus, the democratic axe is beginning to fall on bilateral programs. Nonetheless, in 2006, donor countries still pledged US$1.1 billion in new grants and technical assistance for China [5]. This is not a large sum when compared to China’s gross national income or total government revenues, but there are many demands on government resources and in the future it will not be easy, especially for sub-national governments in poorer provinces, to fund the kind of programs that have benefited from international aid. Therefore, the authorities in these areas will have a clear interest in filling the gap with private philanthropy, from within China and from overseas.

Foreign government donors, however, well aware that their financial resources are limited in relation to needs, invariably emphasize the technical assistance that comes with their projects. It is not the money that counts, they say, so much as the know-how. An important question, therefore, is the extent to which China’s diaspora may be able to serve China as a future reservoir of international know-how.

A more complicated ramification of China’s rise is its psychological, cultural, and political impact on the Chinese diaspora. Among citizens of the People’s Republic itself, there is a widespread, palpable, and understandable feeling that, after 150 years of national humiliation, political turmoil, and lagging development, China is at last getting back on its feet and resuming its proper place in the world. (Indeed, such feelings are almost certainly important to continued Communist Party rule; if the economy began to fail and China began to sink back, the political edifice would come under acute pressure and may well begin to collapse). To what extent do diaspora Chinese share these feelings, and how might a sense of China’s resurgence affect their relationship with China? The answer is likely to vary significantly across diaspora communities and generations, but the question is perhaps especially pertinent among the communities within Asia, where (not counting Hong Kong and Taiwan) two out of every three diaspora Chinese live.

Malaysia, where the ethnic Chinese community of more than six million people comprises roughly a third of the total population, is a case in point. Since independence in 1957, Malaysia’s ethnic Malay, Indian and Sri Lankan, and Chinese populations have coexisted somewhat uneasily in largely separate communities (although Chinese entrepreneurs have continued to thrive, much as they did in the British colonial era, and in no small part through accommodation with the political elite [6].) From the 1980s, China’s “reform and opening” allowed the gradual re-establishment of links that had been severed for three decades, and the early years of the 21st century have seen a veritable surge in trade, investment, and tourism between the two countries [7]. Over the same period, Chinese language and literature courses have opened at many Malaysian tertiary education institutions, and China Studies Centers and research institutes have mushroomed, establishing links with Chinese research and teaching institutions. According to Dr. Voon Phin Keong, Director of the Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies in Kuala Lumpur, this was achieved with “generous support from various [Malaysian] Chinese groups and communities,” which he sees as drawing a new cultural confidence from China’s growing, global status [8].

Malaysian Chinese commercial, educational, and cultural links with China are rapidly displacing ties with Taiwan which, from Malaysia’s independence until the 1980s, was the main external source of cultural reinforcement for Malaysian Chinese, through university study opportunities, publishing, and so on [9]. In 2004, prominent Malaysian Chinese community leaders and captains of industry formed a Malaysian Association for the Promotion of One China, a grouping that basically endorses Beijing’s position in the cross-straits dispute with Taiwan. This alignment with Beijing can be seen as both a result of and a further contribution to the resurgent mainland’s “soft power.”

Philanthropic flows from Malaysian Chinese to China, although not systematically recorded in either country, also appear to be growing. In 2006, Koo Yuen Kim, founder and Chairman of Malaysia-based Zhongshan Perfect (which markets personal care and cosmetic products in China) was named at a ‘Charity Billboard’ event convened by the China Social Work Association, the China Philanthropy Times, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs as numbering among the “top 10 philanthropists” after the company donated a cumulative total of US$15 million (CNY 120 million) to a variety of causes. Other substantial, recent donations have come from Robert Kuok, whose business interests in mainland China include edible oil processing, Coca-Cola bottling plants, and a chain of Shangri-la and Traders hotels; and the late William Cheng (Cheng Heng Jem), Chair of The Lion Group, whose interests include 39 Parkson department stores in China, and Country Heights, which develops property in Guangdong Province. Without exception, these donations were delivered through Chinese government agencies or to charitable organizations that were established by government agencies.

However, giving to China is not confined to entrepreneurs and investors, who have a clear interest in improved government and public relations. The Sin Chew Daily Foundation, established by one of the main Chinese language newspapers in Malaysia to channel donations from its readers to individuals in need at home and abroad, is now raising nearly US$1 million a year in regular contributions to allow 8,000 children in China to complete their studies, according to the Foundation’s Senior Manager, Tong Siew Kheng [10]. In addition, the Sin Chew Daily acts as the media partner of World Vision Malaysia in a “30-Hour Famine” fundraising event. In 2007, some 5,000 of the newspaper’s readers signed up for sponsored fasts, raising money for World Vision’s community development programs in China.

Here, then, diaspora philanthropy appears to be part of a process of widespread economic and social re-engagement and cultural re-identification with China, where
China’s growing success may account for this re-identification as much as the mere fact of its “opening up.”

Malaysia, however, cannot be regarded as a litmus for the entire Chinese diaspora, since historical experience has left Malaysian Chinese with a particular sense of vulnerability. (They “generally have a sense of crisis and have to fight for their rights and space,” according to Voon Phin Keong [11].) Indonesia’s more than seven million ethnic Chinese have experienced a similar history of insecurity, and even more pronounced political marginalisation, enduring racial violence as recently as 1998. Diaspora communities in Europe and North America, by contrast, are very differently placed. They include many people with stronger ties and loyalties to Taiwan; they are located in more inclusive political and social systems that, especially for second and later generations, offer much more scope for integration and acculturation; and they are more exposed to the concerns, pre-eminently in the United States, of those who perceive a “China threat.” Thus, without disavowing their cultural heritage, they can in the main be expected to find the narrative of China’s cultural renaissance less alluring and, in many cases, to feel active distaste for mainland Chinese “patriotism.”

Resurgent, but not equally affluent

China’s recent development trajectory is by no means simply a success story of barreling economic growth and enhanced prosperity. National income has risen six-fold over the last 20 years but the benefits of growth have been unevenly distributed. China now ranks second only to the United States in the number of dollar billionaires, and the personal fortune of the country’s 800 richest people—each with assets worth over $100 million—more than doubled between 2006 and 2007 [12]. Millions of “middle class” city-dwellers now enjoy levels of personal consumption more typical of developed countries. Yet more than half of the 1.3 billion population still lives on austere incomes of just a few dollars a day and, lagging behind them, fully 300 million people live on the equivalent of less than one dollar per day, adjusted for ‘purchasing power parity [13].’

In addition to the discontents generated by rising inequality in what was formerly a highly egalitarian society, China is experiencing social, demographic, and technological transformations that challenge previous cultural norms. These include mass migration and urbanization of rural people; compulsory birth control that skews sex ratios at birth and exacerbates a rapidly ageing population structure (which, in turn, strains the traditional role of the family in caring for elders); later marriage age (with more young people living independently prior to marriage) and more frequent divorce; the rapid advance of information and communication technologies, which have been embraced by government agencies and private citizens alike, but which are widely seen as bringing new problems, ranging from digital illiteracy as a new form of exclusion, to Internet gaming addiction among young people. Thus, in many ways, China is struggling at one and the same time both to complete the transition to modernization and to meet the new challenges of the modern world.

In a sense, this dizzying array of challenges offers wide horizons for philanthropic engagement: there is plenty to be done. But the scale and scope of the challenges are also daunting, especially in a context where rising inequality increasingly appears to be embedded in the current development model itself. Like aid programs funded by foreign governments, private donors are likely to find their contributions a mere drop in the bucket unless they can find strategic ways to have high impact and influence upon other actors—notably, government decision-makers.

To give a simple example: numerous international organizations and private individuals have, over the past decade, donated generously to programs that provide free or heavily subsidized cleft lip and palate surgeries for children in China or cataract surgeries for, typically, older people. Many organizations also seek to train local surgeons and build the capacity of local health systems to provide better service. These are relatively easy programs to raise funds for insofar as the surgeries bring immediate and dramatic change to the lives of individual beneficiaries. However, public policy failures in the administration and the financing of China’s health care system as a whole have been such that it is ever less capable of delivering affordable care to all those who need it --for reasons that go well beyond financial resource constraints [14]. Hospital charges for these relatively simple surgical procedures are well above the average for Asian countries, effectively barring the majority of people who need treatment [15]. This leaves the philanthropic organizations “running faster to stand still,” with the number of new cases each year outstripping their capacity to respond. In this context, philanthropic palliatives are open to the charge that they are propping up a bad system; although philanthropists may respond with the perfectly valid humanitarian defense that, at present, if they did not fund these services, no one else would.

The field of education raises similar quandaries. For 20 years, substantial sums were garnered from Chinese donors at home and abroad to support basic education by paying primary and junior high school expenses for children whose families could not afford to send them to school. From 2005, the central government pledged funds and introduced policies to make basic education genuinely free for low-income rural families, and it appears that the new policy has had extensive reach, despite implementation problems for cash-strapped local authorities [16]. (It might thus be argued that philanthropy played a constructive role in filling resource gaps until such time as the state was able to pick up the bill; however, an alternative narrative is that these measures were introduced, as part of a basket of “new socialist countryside” policies, in response to a rising tide of rural unrest [17].) Meanwhile, philanthropic resources have shifted steadily towards senior high school and university scholarship programs to mitigate the regressive impact of introducing college tuition fees in the late 1990s, at the same time that the government embarked on an ambitious program to expand the number of tertiary education places. The number of places soon outstripped the number of job opportunities, and unemployment among new graduates rose steeply to around 25% [18]. It is increasingly recognized that students from poor families and ethnic minorities, even if they overcome their multiple disadvantages to gain university places, are least likely to prosper in higher education and to secure jobs afterwards [19]. As in the case of health, philanthropic contributions often seem, at best, remedial responses to public policy decisions over which they have negligible impact.

This issue raises fundamental questions about the scope and role of philanthropy in China, and the kind of philanthropy that the government is prepared to countenance.

Managing domestic philanthropy

China’s political leadership appears committed to encouraging philanthropy–but only insofar as it can be done selectively, in ways that prevent the emergence of lobbying or advocacy groups that could challenge government policy or mobilize citizens in any form of protest [20]. This attitude makes it hard to frame enabling or coherent policy for the –not-for-profit sector as a whole. However, after a drafting process that lasted many years, new regulations on the registration and management of foundations came into effect in 2004 and, for the first time since 1949, made provision for the establishment of private, grant-making foundations [21]. (Previously, most Chinese foundations were public fund-raising bodies created by government departments in the 1980s and 1990s, and their programs were mainly implemented by government agencies.) Since 2004, in a drive to promote giving, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has convened several large conferences to discuss and publicize charity (cishan), and in 2007 it created a charity information center and website and began to award prizes to projects deemed especially worthy (with television audiences invited to submit votes).

Senior officials appear increasingly to see charity not only as a way to mobilize funds for needy constituencies but also as a means to help building a “harmonious society,” which, in tacit recognition of the growing social and economic divides, President Hu Jintao has defined as the key social objective of his administration. Officials also readily connect philanthropy with the international discourse of corporate social responsibility, which has been taken up with alacrity in China. In sum, there appears to be growing interest in philanthropy’s potential both to legitimize private wealth and to defuse resentments in a society where most people remain relatively poor.

The sector remains small, however. The Ministry of Civil Affairs estimates that donations totaled US$1.2 billion (CNY 10 billion) in 2006, amounting to just 0.5% of GDP, compared with donations in the United States representing more than 2% of GDP [22]. An independent estimate puts the national total much lower, at just (CNY 3-4 billion

Nevertheless, the 2004 regulations appear to be giving rise to a new generation of foundations established by private philanthropists. A notable example is the Narada Charity Foundation endowed by a real estate developer from Zhejiang Province, Zhou Qingzhi. To lead the operation he has brought in Xu Yongguang, former director of Project Hope, which was the most successful of the government-led foundations, having raised at least US$200 million for basic education since its founding in 1988. The Narada Foundation aims to create quality educational opportunities for the children of rural migrant workers in urban areas, who typically experience financial and social barriers to public education. In the Chinese context this is a much more adventurous initiative than Project Hope which, in effect, was little more than a funding partner for the state in extending the rural reach of compulsory elementary education. Narada’s work, by contrast, is aimed at a constituency that the state has neglected not only because of financial constraints but also through lack of clear and concerted policy. To a certain extent, therefore, the role of philanthropy here has shifted from a following to a leading role.

Thus it appears that a private philanthropic sector is beginning to develop out of models crafted and carefully controlled by the state, which retains a major stake in the sector. (Notably, public fund-raising foundations remain, de facto, the purlieu of government or of Communist Party agencies, with no sign that private citizens will be able to establish them any time soon). This process is strikingly similar to the way in which the Chinese state has gradually allowed a private business sector to develop, without relinquishing active involvement in “pillar industries.”

Meanwhile, over the last 15 years, there has been steady growth of (mostly rather small-scale) social service provider organizations and advocacy groups created by private citizens who are increasingly inclined to describe their organizations as “grassroots NGOs” (caogen feizhengfu zuzhi). Some of these have made innovative contributions in fields such as care for children with disabilities, care for the elderly, legal and personal counseling services, environmental education, rural development, and integration of rural migrants into urban communities; but it remains generally difficult for them to register and operate legally, and they are not permitted to raise funds publicly in China. Therefore, such groups are heavily dependent on personal commitment, on user charges (especially for service provider groups), and on contributions from international organizations (especially for advocacy groups).

Nevertheless, some NGOs have managed to develop working partnerships with local authorities, and most of them desire constructive relationships with government at all levels [24]. The State Environment Protection Agency has proved willing to collaborate with environmental NGOs, and the State Council’s Leading Group for Poverty Reduction has issued documents recognizing the role of NGOs in poverty alleviation. Some of the most active government-created foundations include grassroots groups in consultations and conferences and, in some cases, agree to act as official sponsors for citizen-initiated organizations. Some, such as the China Legal Aid Foundation, have provided funding for work undertaken by smaller, grassroots groups. Moreover, China’s print media has given ample coverage to the grassroots NGOs community, both profiling individual activists and organizations and exploring the overall development of the NGO sector as a new phenomenon in China.

However, many government officials regard this citizen-initiated sector with suspicion and in some cases with outright hostility; and official suspicions have heightened considerably since the 2005 “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Many NGOs, especially those receiving foreign funds, have come under close surveillance from state security agents; publications reporting on the sector have been ordered to close; and some prominent civil society activists have been detained and imprisoned [25]. Whereas, in retrospect, the early years of the new century were a time of relative flexibility and experimentation–when it seemed that the authorities, although not much interested in civic freedoms per se, were at least prepared to allow NGOs enough space to demonstrate their worth [26]–the last two years have seen a general policy chill and contraction of political space.

This may prove to be only a temporary reversal for China’s grassroots NGOs, which continued to develop despite earlier reversals (such as the policy chill that accompanied the government campaign against Falun Gong in the late 1990s.) At this writing, the government of China is anxious to present an orderly and harmonious face to the world during the 2008 Olympics and the security services may, on conclusion of the Games, relax their surveillance and containment efforts. This, at any rate, is earnestly to be hoped, since heavy-handed efforts to restrain the social energy released by economic reform and opening risks creating precisely the kind of oppositional force that the state fears, and triggering lose-lose confrontations between government and society.

For the time being, however, the difficult operating environment that young, grassroots organizations face clearly curtails their ability to develop core competencies, achieve tangible results, and prove their worth to policy makers. It also constrains the potential of private grant-making agencies, by weakening the field of social innovators in whom to invest.

One country, many diasporas

Chinese diaspora philanthropy is too diverse to speak of a single discernible pattern, but it is possible to point to contrasting trends, rooted in different historical experience.

At one extreme, Malaysian Chinese entrepreneurs exemplify a philanthropy that appears to accept the Communist state as the unique agent of social leadership, faithfully mirroring the Communist Party’s own view. Tang Ah Chai, a community leader from the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, articulated this position in an interview:

In our society, we prefer to support fully- or semi-governmental organizations such as the China Red Cross and government-initiated activities. The social impact of NGOs is quite limited. To most Chinese Malaysians, ‘NGO’ implies a strong political color and stress on big topics such as democracy, gender equality, labor rights, and social movements. In sum, ‘NGO’ is a rather sensitive word.[27]

Given the Government of China’s current drive to promote a carefully managed version of philanthropy, it is more than likely that the largesse of diaspora magnates and their corporations–irrespective of whether it is cynical, or generous, or a mix of the two–will grow. But it is hard to imagine this making a distinctive contribution to China’s development while it brings nothing that is new to government-endorsed programs.

Support for more independent initiatives is likely to develop among Malaysian Chinese–for it would almost certainly be unfair to characterize them as uniformly averse to sensitive issues or uncritically admiring of the Chinese authorities. Sin Chew Daily readers’ efforts in fund-raising for World Vision are perhaps, to some extent, indicative of demand for personal engagement in non-government efforts; and there is at least one example of a Christian organization largely staffed by Malaysian (and Singaporean) Chinese that implements its own small-scale rural development projects in Western China: New China Link (whose Chinese name, Huaqiao Huxie, translates as ‘Overseas Chinese Mutual Aid Association’) established in 2002.[28]

For the time being, however, it is easier to find examples of diaspora Chinese in Australia, in Europe, and in North America–who have lived within social and political systems with strong traditions of civic participation and intellectual freedom–giving back to China in terms of social innovation. (Hong Kong, and Taiwan, as discussed in this essay, also have a distinctive bridging role.) Of course, there are those in China who see “westernized” overseas Chinese as too remote from China to understand it properly, or as promoting U.S. cultural hegemony or even signposting color revolution. However, in its efforts to overcome 150 years of national humiliation, China has sought technology transfer in many fields; and the diaspora may increasingly come to be seen as the most acceptable conduit for transferring what could be called “social technology.”

Work on AIDS furnishes some examples. American Chinese scientist David Ho, famed for his groundbreaking research in understanding the HIV virus and in developing a pharmaceutical cocktail to treat it, was also in 2003 one of the founders of a China AIDS initiative that brings together numerous Chinese and international institutions in testing, treatment, and care programs [29]. The combination of Ho’s ethnicity and scientific prestige undoubtedly helped to secure the support of Chinese government agencies. American Chinese filmmaker Ruby Yang, through a China AIDS media project established in 2005, has collaborated with China’s health authorities in creating AIDS awareness television campaigns featuring Chinese sporting, film, and music celebrities, as well as directing documentaries about people and communities affected by the AIDS epidemic (most famously, Blood of Yingzhou District , which won an Academy Award in 2006) [30]. This is groundbreaking work in a context where acknowledgement of the epidemic, and clear communication about it, have been long-hampered by government sensitivities. Less famous but no less committed is Humphrey Wou, also American, whose China AIDS Relief Fund (established in 2003) makes micro-grants to groups in high-risk communities–including groups of commercial sex workers and gay men–as well as to mutual support groups of HIV positive people [31]. Wou’s contribution is significant because this field has lately become crowded with international agencies keen to boost Chinese civil society responses to AIDS, and this has led to some irresponsible grant-making and a mushrooming of opportunistic grant seekers [32]. Wou’s distinctive contribution, achieved through frequent and lengthy trips to China and the cultivation of an extensive network of grassroots contacts, has been in finding and nurturing, but not corrupting, the real thing.

In many other fields, Chinese North Americans within not-for-profit organizations, consulting groups, think tanks, and universities are increasingly important collaborators for Chinese NGOs, government officials and researchers. For example, the Wild Flowers Institute–whose President, Hanmin Liu, is also a board member of the Kellogg Foundation–trains and mentors the Chinese NGO Community Action, which works with district governments in Chinese cities to improve, in practical ways, their responsiveness to citizens’ expressed needs [33]. Mark Yu-Ting Chen, a senior McKinsey consultant, played a key role in establishing the Non-Profit Partners Foundation in China in 2006, which plans to work with both government foundations and grassroots organizations to build their operational capacity. Assistant Professor Miu Chung Yan of the University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work is leading a team of experts in advising the Legislative Affairs Office of China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs on the development of not-for-profit law. Yawei Liu serves as China Director of the Carter Center, which has over the last 10 years observed and advised on China’s experiments with village elections (and, more recently, on election procedures for local and national People’s Congresses). The Center’s activities include training officials, designing civic education programs, organizing seminars, and publishing Chinese language materials on political transition and democratization. Minxin Pei is Director of the China Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which in 2004 established a Beijing office in collaboration with an independent Chinese think tank, the China Reform Forum, to undertake research, hold seminars, and disseminate publications on security, governance, legal reform, energy and environment. William Hsiao, a professor of Economics at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and a longstanding consultant to the World Bank, has undertaken numerous studies of health sector financing in China, in collaboration with health authorities. He is actively engaged in (and has mobilized private funding for) village level trials of cooperative insurance schemes that include mechanisms to make health service providers more accountable to patients [34].

As discussed in the original chapter, China has been striving to reverse the international brain drain in fields that offer the prospect of research and development to take China’s economy up the value chain. This is harder to achieve in the social sciences, whose development in China has been severely hampered by ideological constraints. But diaspora intellectuals scattered across the think tanks and universities of the developed world are widely engaged in debate and joint research with counterparts in China, and this may increasingly influence policy debates within China.

In sum, the diaspora reservoir of brains and know-how–in specific policy areas, in the building of academic and professional fields that can shape public policy generally, and in not-for-profit sector development–almost certainly has more potential impact upon China than diaspora charitable donations. But it should not be surprising that the Government of China is ambivalent about the value of the former resources—having, as it does, to contend with a world at large that is distinctly ambivalent about China’s economic rise. The government will want to control the flow, but is likely to find that increasingly difficult as business, academic, professional, and social connections multiply between the Chinese population at home and overseas.

Nick Young
February 2008, London


[1] Many thanks are due to Tina Qian, who contributed valuable research assistance, notably by undertaking a research trip (funded by APPC) to Malaysia.

[2] Examples of hostility are legion as an search for ‘China, threat’ will rapidly reveal. For cautious optimism see Bergsten, C. F., , Gill, B., Lardy, N. & Mitchell, D. (2006) China: The Balance Sheet, Public Affairs, New York, 2006. For frank admiration, see several panegyrics by Senegal’s President, Abdoulaye Wade, e.g., Time for the west to practise what it preaches in the Financial Times Africa-China Trade Special Report, London, January 4, 2008.

[3] E.g., Japan, much the largest bilateral donor to China during the 1990s, began reducing its commitments from the turn of the century. The United Kingdom is planning to phase out assistance by 2010.

[4] For example, the October 16, 2003 front cover of The Economist featured a photograph of China’s Shenzhou 5 rocket launch with the cheekily provocative caption ‘Congratulations, China. So, No More Aid Then?’)

[5] ‘Donor countries’ here refers to those recognized as such by the OECD Development Assistance Committee. The year 2006 was the most recent year for which the committee has made statistics available. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2006 Development Database on Aid from DAC Members: DAC online.,2340,en_2649_34447_36661793_1_1_1_1,00.... New commitments are likely to have since declined.

[6] Chinese Malaysians are mainly descendants of poor immigrant laborers who responded to the work opportunities in 19th-century British Malaya. Some managed to establish businesses, typically starting as peddlers and then shopkeepers, accumulating capital that their sons later deployed to become wealthy magnates with wide portfolios of interests. Lynne Pan describes these merchant-entrepreneurs as ”the filling in the colonial sandwich” (Pan, L. (1994) Sons of the Yellow Emperor: a History of the Chinese Diaspora (p.135). New York: Kodansha). Joe Studwell argues that their final ascent to the commanding heights of local economies across Southeast Asia was generally assisted by "nested relationships between political and economic elites,’” with entrepreneurs achieving economic “godfather” status by negotiating with the political authorities to obtain licenses for monopoly (or oligopoly) trades that provided them with stable, core income (Studwell, J. (2003) Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in South East Asia (p.45). London: Profile Books).

[7] Trade rose from US$7 billion in 2001 to US$37 billion in 2006 and is projected to surpass US$50 billion by 2010, according to Zhu Ping, writing in the China Daily of August 31, 2007 (Ping, Z (2007, August 31) Centuries Old Ties Renewed in Modern Era. The China Daily, p.21). China’s Vice-Minister of Commerce, Jiang Zengwei, stated in a 2007 speech that cumulative Malaysian investment in China had reached US$4.5 billion. (As reported on the Ministry of Commerce website, , accessed April 18, 2008). The China National Tourist Office records just short of one million person visits to China by Malaysian citizens (the great majority of them almost certainly Malaysian Chinese) in 2006 (China Tourist Office (2006) China Tourism Statistics,

[8] T. Qian, personal communication, September 8, 2007.

[9] Hou, K..C., Working Paper No. 2006-8. Malaysian Chinese and Cross-Strait Relations. Malaysia: University of Malaysia Institute of China Studies.

[10] T. Qian, personal communication, September 7, 2007.

[11] T. Qian, personal communication, September 8, 2007.

[12] Hurun Report (2007) Hurun Rich List 2007. This listing is widely regarded as the most authoritative source of information on private wealth in China. When it was first compiled in 1999, researchers could find only 50 individuals with a net worth above US$6 million.

[13] Keidel, A. (2007, November 14) The Limits of a Smaller, Poorer China, Financial Times,

[14] There is a large international literature on reform-era policy failure in the PRC’s health system. A significant, early critique came from a 1997 World Bank’s report “Financing Health Care: Issues and Options for China” (World Bank, Washington DC), but many of the problems highlighted in that report remain unresolved. For a more recent overview, see an interview with WHO China Representative, Henk Bekedam, in China Development Brief (November 2006) “You cannot fix this [health] system in three or four years”

[15] This is based on interviews with the Australian blindness prevention NGO, the Fred Hollows Foundation, as reported in China Development Brief (2000, Autumn) “Unseeing and largely unseen”

[16] Chang, T.(2006, September) Rural education: subsidies provide palliative, but not panacea. China Development Brief.

[17] See, e.g., Young ,N. (2007, February) How Much Inequality Can China Stand? China Development Brief Special Report.

[18] See, e.g., two stories by the official Xinhua News Agency: (2006, May 8) Millions of Chinese Graduates Facing Unemployment. Xinhua News Agency. and (2006, November 17) 1.24 Million Chinese College Students to Graduate Without Jobs This Year. Xinhua News Agency.

[19] The Ford Foundation’s Pathways to Higher Education program in China has identified and is attempting to address this issue.

[20] For an earlier but more detailed introduction to China’s philanthropic sector, see Young, N. (2004) Richesse Oblige and So Does the State: Philanthropy and Equity in China in Geithner, P F, Johnson P D & Chen L C (eds.) Diaspora Philanthropy and Equitable Development in China and India (pp.29-77) Harvard University: Global Equity Initiative, Asia Center.

[21] For an early analysis of these regulations, see (2004, June 10). Blurred law may be better than none, China Development Brief. The China Development Brief website includes an English translation of the regulations.

[22] Zhenyao, W. (2007, April), Speech delivered at China Charity Information Center. Beijing, China.

[23] Yongguang, X. (2007, June) Presentation made at international symposium on charity law: Analysis of Reasons for Shortage of Private Charity Donations in China and Relevant Suggestions. Beijing: Ministry of Civil Affairs.

[24] Ying, X., Wexler, R. & Young, N. (2006) NGO Advocacy in China. China Development Brief.

[25] Examples of publications ordered to close include China Development Brief’s English language edition, published in Beijing, and Minjian, published by a civil society research center in Zhongshan University, Guangzhou. Jailed activists include Chen Guangcheng, imprisoned for four years in 2005 after attempting to bring legal actions against Shandong Province family planning authorities over forced sterilization and late-term abortions; Wu Lihong, sentenced in 2007 by a court in Jiangsu Province to three years imprisonment on a ‘blackmail’ charge after he had for many years led a campaign to protect a local lake from chemical effluents, and Hu Jia, a veteran ‘AIDS activist’ who, at this writing, is facing subversion charges.

[26] This idea is developed in Young, N. (2004) Does This Cat Catch Mice? Human Rights and Civil Society in China in Dhundale L and Andersen E A (eds) Revisiting the Role of Civil Society in the Promotion of Human Rights, (pp. 53-107) : Danish Institute for Human Rights.

[27] T. Qian, personal communication, September 9, 2007.

[28] New China Link (

[29] China AIDS Initiative (

[30] The China AIDS Media Project (

[31]AIDS Relief Fund for China (

[32] Young, N. with Liping, M. (2007, May 23) HIV/AIDS: NGOs proliferate as the Global Fund steps. China Development Brief. Beijing, China.; Young, N. with Liping, M. (2008, January 14) AIDS: Anger and recrimination block progress in Henan. China Development Brief. Beijing, China; Young, N. with Liping, M. (2008, March) AIDS & Civil Society in China. China Development Brief Special Report Beijing, China.

[33] Young, N. and Qian, T. (2006, March 2), Listening to the community is the main ingredient in Chinese NGO recipe for city governments. China Development Brief. Beijing, China.

[34] Zamiska, N. (2007, February 13) In China, Farmers Become Health-Care Monitors Wall Street Journal (p.A1).