State of Exchange: Migrant NGOs and the Chinese Government (University of British Columbia Press, 2017):
The Chinese state has become increasingly heterogeneous and comprised of multiple layers and spaces. The state’s diversity is, in part, attributable to the rise of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in China. My book, State of Exchange: Migrant NGOs and the Chinese Government, examines how state and NGOs transform each other. I demonstrate this through a case study of NGOs in Beijing and Shanghai, whereby these NGOs are making great efforts to engage with central and local authorities. The local state is becoming more important in the work and activities of the NGOs. Moreover, I argue it is the growing presence of local states in this interaction that reinforces this notion of the effectiveness of layered state. As NGOs proliferate across China, they will no doubt capture the attention of central and local states. As the authorities try to make sense of this change, local authorities will attempt to embrace and incorporate NGOs, or at the very least, the presence of NGOs will register on the state’s radar as a way to ensure control, and as a means to interpret their growth within the state’s own terms. Spaces of the state therefore multiply, as central and local states start to engage with these NGOs. In an era where NGOs are proliferating in the nation, the Chinese state is engaging with society as a means to remain relevant and legitimate. Through this process of engagement, the state is penetrating different spaces to ensure its survival.
In 2016, I conducted fieldwork in Vietnam and Myanmar to investigate the role of Chinese non-government organisations working with their counterparts in the region in promoting better community and development practices. For this project, I will also look at the involvement of foreign donors seeking closer collaboration with their Chinese counterparts in the region to do development work.
Recently, I have commenced a research project with colleagues to examine the role of government-organised NGOs (GONGOs) in development. An initial working paper seeks to examine the concept of “GONGOs” and theorise their role in the development process.
I have recently completed a collaboratively on a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded project. The project investigated the process in which local Chinese NGOs seek to establish legitimacy for its stated constituents and local authorities, through the production of knowledge (epistemic power). Results of the research can be found in the following four journal articles and one under review: “Isomorphic Pressures, Epistemic Communities and State-NGO Collaboration in China” (The China Quarterly, 2014, 220: 936-954); “The Local Corporatist State and NGO Relations in China” (Journal of Contemporary China, 2014, 23(87): 516-534); “A Maturing Civil Society in China?: The Role of Knowledge and Professionalization in the Development of NGOs” (China Information, forthcoming); “NGO Strategies in an Authoritarian Context, and their Implications for Citizenship: The Case of the People’s Republic of China” (Voluntas, forthcoming); and “Communities of Practice and Social Learning: An Analysis of the NGO Sector in China.”
A collaborative project funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation examined the process in which Chinese NGOs are “going out” and working in a development context in Africa. Questions of whether we will see greater internationalisation of Chinese NGOs will become pertinent when China increases its presence across the developing world.