Young Researchers Seminar : New Developments in the Chinese social sector – 2 June 2017

The Tsinghua University Sino-French Research Centre is pleased to invite you to a seminar on new developments in the Chinese social sector.


Virginie Arantes (Université Libre de Belgique),

Olivier Ruelle ((Hong Kong Polytechnic University)


Jia Xijin, Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, Vice Dean of the Institute of Philanthropy of Tsinghua University

Chloé Froissart, Director of the Tsinghua Sino-French Research Center

Virginie Arantes: « The emergence of a ‘Green’ third sector in China: Cross-sectional study of grassroots NGOs

Social enterprises are a relatively new concept in China; however, their emergence already seems « unstoppable » in Shanghai. Indeed, a growing number of different actors have been actively emerging and promoting a new entrepreneurial approach in order to address social issues and create positive community changes. After more than two decades of what have been called an « association revolution » with the exponential rise of NGOs in China, a time of social enterprises development seem to have come. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Shanghai, this article suggests that the diversification of the third sector with the emergence of social enterprises can be seen as a strategic response of society in order to overcome the restrictive and controlled environment imposed to NGOs in China.

Virginie Arantes

Virginie Arantes is a doctoral candidate and FNRS research fellow in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Her actual research focus on grassroots environmental NGOs and social enterprises in Shanghai.

Olivier Ruelle : « Public Interest Practitioners in China :How doing gongyi constitutes a sense making process? »

In 2011, public figures such as academics and investigative journalists caught much public attention by launching a series of actions through social media in China. Some of these actions revolved around the abduction and trafficking of children, miners befallen by pneumoconiosis, or malnutrition of schooled children in poor regions. Described as ‘Internet philanthropy,’ ‘social public interest actions,’ or ‘popular public welfare’, these gongyi or public interest actions were initiated by individuals not generally associated with charity or philanthropy. They reached out to the public in a direct and immediate way through social media, enabling volunteers to participate online and offline. And they raised social issues rarely covered by traditional media. The emergence of public interest (PI) initiatives and their use of Social Network Services are the signs of a radical transformation of China’s charity sector, an evolution from top-down cishan to a more accessible gongyi. This evolution is marked by a steady development in the number of non-profit organizations, with almost 330,000 private non-commercial enterprises (minban fei qiye danwei) registered through the Ministry of Civil Affairs in April 2016. The objectives of this research are, first, to understand the motivations of long-term staff and volunteers involved in this growing sector in China, a subject that has hardly been investigated in the existing literature. Second, how their involvement constitutes an individual sense making process that helps them construct meaning regarding their social contribution and their relations with other social actors. And, third, to start considering the wider implications of this individual sense making process for the future of the PI sector.

Olivier Ruelle

After about twenty years of living and working in China, Olivier Ruelle has been a PhD candidate at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Applied Social Sciences (APSS) since 2014. His research interests lie in the motivations of public interest (gongyi) practitioners and how they cooperate with other social actors to solve social problems.

Friday, 2 June 2017, from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Tsinghua University

Mingzhai Building 明斋楼

Room 337

The seminar will be held in English and Chinese.