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

July 26, 2011 // 3:00pm4:30pm
China Development Brief

In the United States, 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, which have long had close ties with the government, have shied away from supporting independent nonprofits. That now seems to be changing in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the rapid rise of private foundations started by wealthy private entrepreneurs. Both government-run and private foundations are now beginning to recognize the value of independent nonprofits, and funding them. The support of private entrepreneurs for independent organizations has important ramifications for Chinese civil society, but is this support for real? In this talk, Dr. Shawn Shieh will discuss the findings from the reporting carried out by China Development Brief, an independent Chinese organization that covers the civil society sector. 

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 resides.  He is currently a Visiting Professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University where he teaches classes on Chinese politics and foreign relations.  He is also the director of China Development Brief (English) (  CDB (English) is a translation project of China Development Brief, an independent Chinese nonprofit that reports on China’s civil society sector.  Its mission is to promote understanding and dialogue between China’s civil society sector and the international community. 

His 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, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • China Development Brief Translation Project, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, United Nations Development Program, and the Asian Development Bank
  • J. Stapleton Roy // Founding Director and Distinguished Scholar
    Founding Director Emeritus, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States
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