Civil Society with Chinese Characteristics: NGOs, GONGOs, and Civil Society Aid in the People's Republic of China
Bartuski, Andrea R.
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After living and studying for a year in China, I think about those protests in Tiananmen Square and the lone student stopping all those tanks. Why were those protests crushed and why has China not become democratic? Are the same forces of globalization that seem to have aided democratic movements in other parts of the world somehow not applicable to the Middle Kingdom? While in Beijing, I had the opportunity to intern with the Canadian International Development Agency where I began to see that globalization is impacting China's political situation more than I had previously expected. Governments and aid organizations from all over the world are working in China to help support the development of autonomous organizations, hoping these organizations can find a new place within Chinese society: serving as an intermediary form of organization between the people and the government. This new form of organization is developing, in large part, because of the economic reforms enacted by former leader Deng Xiaoping. These autonomous organizations make up China's developing civil society. However, in many ways this is a new, uniquely Chinese brand of civil society. In order to best understand this Chinese civil society and the role the international community plays, this paper begins with the idea of civil society. Next, through a discussion of the historical and cultural antecedents of Chinese civil society we can better understand the present role of civil society in China. Then, we will look at the growing international interest in civil society aid, as organizations and governments attempt to foster the development of democracy in places like China through aid to civil society organizations. With this in mind, we gain an understanding the role international aid can have in the development of civil society and democracy in China.
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