Strategic responses of NGOs to the new party-building campaign in China

Lin NIE, Jie WU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last decade, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sought to assimilate the third sector – non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – through its party-building campaign. This article examines NGOs’ strategies in response to this campaign, based on in-depth interviews with 64 NGOs and local cadres. We find that NGOs have developed three main strategies to respond to the CCP’s attempts to penetrate their organizations. First, NGOs embedded in the party-state system and those affiliated with private enterprises tend to acquiesce to party building out of habit and for compliance reasons, respectively. Second, those with multiple stakeholders generally compromise in the party-building process, acting as passive compliers if they depend more on non-state resources, or active players if they rely more on state resources. Third, civic NGOs that advocate causes inconsistent with the ruling regime might avoid party building as a resistant strategy, by either disguising their nonconformity or escaping from the control of the ruling regime entirely. NGOs’ strategic responses are contingent on their negotiating power, which results from their resource dependence and the party’s enforcement dilemmas. This article contributes to our understanding of the recent party-building campaign from an institutional perspective, and enriches our knowledge about relations between the party and the third sector. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-67
JournalChina Information
Issue number1
Early online dateFeb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


Nie, L., & Wu, J. (2022). Strategic responses of NGOs to the new party-building campaign in China. China Information, 36(1), 46-67. doi: 10.1177/0920203X21995705


  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Party building
  • Isomorphism
  • Resource dependence
  • Strategic responses


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