Universiteit Leiden

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PhD defence

Global China’s Human Touch?

  • Y. Wang
Wednesday 17 January 2024
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. D.E.F. Henley
  • dr. R. Gonzalez Vicente


The thesis aims to provide a systematic, structured and evidence-based view of the internationalisation of Chinese NGOs and examine their role in Chinese international development by primarily studying 28 Chinese NGOs based on fieldwork, interviews and analysis of organizational discourses. The thesis has shown that the major characteristic of the autonomy of Chinese NGOs is that the Chinese state’s influence does not come directly from its interventions in the operations of Chinese NGOs as there are limited direct policies, funding and other operational intervention from the Chinese government related to internationalisation. Instead, the Chinese state’s influence is embedded in the existing regulatory system regarding NGO registration and supervision and in the sources of legitimacy and value for internationalisation, a phenomenon dubbed as “embedded internationalisation”. Chinese NGOs are incapable of developing action and discourses completely independent of the Chinese state and tend to act as Chinese soft power promoters even without direct requirements from the Chinese state. The process of Chinese NGOs’ internationalisation is not sufficiently autonomous from the influence of the Chinese state and corporations and, thus, cannot offer a viable alternative to China’s mainstream international development landscape. Instead, Chinese NGOs have played a complementary role, as they have enriched the varieties of China’s aid and development cooperation and promoted China’s soft power.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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