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Attitude key to NGO-gov't cooperation
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16:51, June 11, 2008

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A positive attitude towards each other is vital when the government and non-government organizations work together, said associate professor Jia Xijin, deputy director of the NGO Research Institute of Tsinghua University --- one of China's most prestigious universities.

Ina video interview at People's Daily Online Tuesday, Jia stressed that the government needs to be more open, friendly and trusting towards NGOs; while NGOs need to understand government policy and be cooperative without being overbearing with their power.

The cooperation between the government and NGOs in quake relief in Sichuan is a good example. Jia noticed that the government has been "open and welcome" to the participation of citizens and NGOs. There have been no restrictions. "It is a good start and I hope it will continue," she said.

Liu Hui, the other guest in the video program, agreed with Jia. Taking the UN-China project which she was engaged in - Olympic volunteerism - as an example, she said that this project brought different government departments and different NGOs together in their activities. Both sides learn how to work together in that process.

In Jia's view, another reason for the intensive and extensive NGO engagement in the quake relief is the rapid development of NGOs --- grass root NGOs in particular --- in the past five years. Their growth is not only demonstrated by their numbers, but also in their expanding outreach. There are NGO networks, foundations, and capacity building centers which are all new to China.

The passion and power that NGOs have shown in the quake relief indicate that people are willing and getting ready to contribute to society, according to Liu, who as a UNV volunteer went to the quake area on a medical relief mission sponsored by the Beijing Youth League.

Both of the two speakers agreed that NGOs can play an even bigger role in the post quake reconstruction process, than in the relief process.

"Reconstruction is not just about rebuilding houses, but people's lives, communities and personality," said Jia. "It is about rebuilding people's order of life," said Liu, adding that NGOs can take care of things that the government alone may not be able to do well.

Jia believes that compared with the government efforts, NGOs have the advantage in focusing on particular cases. She also suggested that NGOs participate in the use of reconstruction funds, just as Taiwan's Rebuilding Foundation operated after the Taiwan earthquake on September 21, 1999.

Liu thinks that NGOs have advantages in helping elderly people who lost their families in the quake and those disabled. Based on her hands-on experience in the quake zone, she suggested that NGOs and volunteers can accompany and take care of children and help distribute water and food.

"We should make use of such passion and power to maximize the benefit for society," she said.

And for Jia, rebuilding the community hit by the quake in a more "participatory way" will benefit "both victims and society."

By People's Daily Online

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