Contracting Welfare Services to NGOs in China: Control or Opportunity?

Monday 14 - Thursday 17 September 2020, (BST)

Participants should click here to register their place

This programme of events arises out of three years research on Contracting Welfare Services to NGOs in China. It was funded by the ESRC and comprises an international team of researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, Beijing Normal University and University of New South Wales. The research was carried out over five locations in China and focused on three sectors, namely, children living with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS and migrants. Over 120 qualitative interviews were conducted as well as extensive analysis of laws, policies, regulations, and secondary research.

The research has generated many interesting findings and opened up big questions:

  • Is contracting to NGOs in China a significant opportunity for NGOs to develop or is a new form of control?
  • Does contracting under authoritarianism look different to under a liberal democratic regime?
  • Does contracting offer a way to improve welfare services delivery?
  • What interesting lessons can international practitioners and policy-makers learn from China’s contracting experience?

This events programme marks the end of the research project. It aims to present its main findings and open up avenues of debate with the public, academics, policy-makers, and practitioners. There is one week of online events, starting on Monday 14th September and ending on Thursday 17th September. There are two one-hour panel sessions focusing on big questions about contracting, neo-liberalism and authoritarianism, and lessons from China. Five academic papers set the scene for the panels. There is plenty of opportunity for Q&A and participants can come to any number of the events.

The event is free. Participants should sign up at the following link. All papers (including Q&A) will be available as podcasts, which will be available in a few days after the event. Panel presentations will be recorded but Q&A is not recorded.

Panel 1: Is contracting welfare services different under authoritarianism? Taking a look at China.

Monday, 14th September 11.00-11.45

Paper 1: Why and how contracting looks different under authoritarianism?

Chair: Regina Enjuto Martinez

Presenter: Jude Howell


Monday 14th September


Paper 2: Effects of contracting on NGOs’ autonomy in China

Chair: Jude Howell Presenter: Regina Enjuto Martinez

Tuesday 15th September 12.00-13.00 

Panel discussion

Chair: Karen Fisher, Panellists: Jude Howell, Regina Enjuto Martinez, Natasha Cortis, Shawn Shieh

Panel 2: What can we learn from China’s experiences of contracting welfare services to NGOs?

Wednesday, 16th September 11.00-11.45  

Paper 1: Contracting Social Work Services in China: Control and professionalism

Chair: Regina Enjuto Martinez

Presenter: Jie Lei

Wednesday, 16th September



Paper 2: Building the entrepreneurial welfarist state through welfare services contracting in China


Chair: Regina Enjuto Martinez

Presenter: Yuanyuan Qu

Thursday, 17th September


Paper 3: Neoliberalism meets authoritarianism: Chinese and Australian policy responses to failed social services contracting

Chair: Yuanyuan Qu

Presenters: Xiaoyuan Shang and Karen Fisher

Thursday, 17th September


Panel Discussion

Chair: Jude Howell

Presenters: Xiaoyuan Shang, Jie Lei, Yuanyuan Qu, Pia MacRae


Information about Presenters

Dr Jude Howell is Professor of International Development at the Department of International Development, LSE, UK.

Dr Karen Fisher is Professor of Social Policy at the University of New South Wales, Australia

Dr Xiaoyuan Shang is Professor of Social Policy at the Beijing Normal University, China.

Dr Regina Enjuto Martinez is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of International Development, LSE, UK.

Dr Yuanyuan Qu is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of International Development, LSE, UK.

Pia MacRae has spent around 15 years living and working in China and most recently worked as Save the Children’s Country Director in China. 

Dr Jie Lei is Associate Professor, School of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University, China.

Dr Shawn Shieh is director of Social Innovations Advisory, has spent 10 years working for two NGOs - China Development Brief and China Labour Bulletin - dedicated to strengthening civil society in China.

Dr Natasha Cortis is Senior Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia. 

A downloadable version of the event schedule is available here