Written by Andreas Fulda.

The CPI Blog Special Issue on “Chinese Civil Society in Transition: Views from Europe” is a collaboration between the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Politics (CCCP) at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies and the China Policy Institute (CPI). It will run from May 19-23.

Chinese citizens have begun to shape the face of China’s civil society. Farmers, urbanites, men and women, young and old, people of all abilities, professionals and laymen are all taking part in an open-ended process of self-organisation. Since the mid-1990s civil society organisations (CSOs) in China have matured from self-help groups on the community level to increasingly professional providers of social services on the municipal and provincial level. Increasingly, Chinese CSOs have also taken on important advocacy functions, e.g. by calling for existing Chinese national laws to be better implemented or new laws to be established where there have been none before. But how will China’s civil society look like in the future?

Is it going to resemble the third sector in Europe or Northern America or will it bear greater similarities with civil societies in the global south? What are the likely effects of Chinese civil society activism on social and political development in China? This five-part CPI Blog Series is informed by the experiences of European practitioners who have worked in close partnership with Chinese CSOs. It provides first hand insights into a highly dynamic field which has often been discussed merely from a theoretical perspective. Since Chinese CSOs are increasingly willing and able to partner with European NGOs, there is a need on the European side to better understand both the political realities and possibilities of EU-China civil society collaboration.

The Line-up

Citizen diplomacy as the bedrock of EU-China relations–Andreas Fulda and Horst Fabian

Andreas Fulda is lecturer at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies and senior fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham. He is also coordinator of the School’s Centre for Contemporary Chinese Politics (CCCP). As the manager of the EU-China Civil Society Dialogue Programme (2011-14) he is coordinating the work of partner organisations China Association for NGO Cooperation, German Asia Foundation, Global Links Initiative, Great Britain-China Centre, Institute for Civil Society at the Sun Yat-sen University, Leadership Inc, the University of Nottingham, UK, and the University of Nottingham Ningbo China.

Horst Fabian has been an academic expert for Cuban development policy and politics before he worked as a GTZ/CIM Program Coordinator for East Asia in German development cooperation for 20 years.  From 2000 – 2012 he developed as part of the CIM program in China a civil society portfolio of 30 CIM experts in total, one of the roots of the EU – China Civil Society Dialogue. After retirement he tries to play the role of one of many Europe – China civil society ambassadors. Besides he is researching and publishing on selected issues of Chinese development (civil society, democratization, social movements, sustainable development transition).

Releasing the full potential of EU-China civil society collaboration–Nora Sausmikat

Nora Sausmikat holds a post PhD in Sinology, studied in Chengdu/ P.R. China and Berlin, and works as project manager, free-lance television and radio consultant, and academic author and lecturer.  Her main research fields are Civil Society, political reform, biographical memory, the role of intellectuals, and Chinese women’s studies.

Green private banks in communist China?–Pieter Jansen

Pieter Jansen has been working for Both ENDS for more than a decade, focusing on international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. In 2008, he visited Yunnan province to learn more about Chinese highway investment.

Supporting inclusive theatre in China: Act 1–Dave Carey

Dave Carey is creative director and co-writer of many shows of the Chickenshed theatre. He was educated in London and the US and toured extensively as a musician. Working around the world, he brings Chickenshed’s inclusive approach to theatre to a wider audience.