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Same Bed, Different Dreams? The New Philanthropy and Civil Society in China

Dr. Shawn Shieh, the founding editor of China Development Brief (English), will discuss the burgeoning relationship between independent nonprofit organizations and grant-making foundations in China.

July 20, 2011 8:30am to 10:00am

In the U.S., philanthropic organizations and civil society organizations are natural partners, with grant-making foundations serving as an important source of funding for nonprofits. In China, foundations have long had close ties with the government, and have subsequently shied away from supporting independent nonprofits.

This now seems to be changing in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the rapid rise of private foundations established by wealthy entrepreneurs. Both government-run and private foundations are beginning to recognize the value of independent nonprofits, and are funding them. The support of private entrepreneurs for independent organizations has important ramifications for Chinese civil society, but will this development last? In this talk, Dr. Shieh will discuss findings from China Development Brief, an independent Chinese organization whose mission is to promote understanding and dialogue between China’s civil society sector and the international community.


Dr. Shawn Shieh received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and was associate professor of political science at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, for 14 years before moving to Beijing where he now resides.  He is currently a visiting professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University where he teaches classes on Chinese politics and foreign relations. 

Dr. Shieh's most recent publications on Chinese NGOs are State and Society Responses to Social Welfare Needs in China: Serving the People (Routledge, 2009), “China’s Quiet Activists” (YaleGlobal Online, 2009) and “An Emerging Civil Society: The Impact of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake on Grassroots Associations in China” (The China Journal, January 2011). He is writing a book on social activism in China that profiles the different personalities and personal networks in the NGO community. He also has a blog devoted to NGOs in China at, and has given talks about Chinese and international civil society at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Ford Foundation, Foreign Correspondent’s Club of China, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

To register for the program, click here; email with questions.

Registration will close at noon on July 15.

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