Category Archives: Past Events

4/20/13: Social Entrepreneurship in China – Andrea Lane, Founder of FYSE, and Wang Li, Social Entrepreneur

Last night BCD welcomed Andrea Lane, founder and director of FYSE, a local organisation which provides capacity building for social entrepreneurs, and Wang Li, a social entrepreneur who runs a library and a school on the outskirts of Beijing. Andrea spoke to us about the rise of social enterprise in China since the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, and the translation into Chinese of the David Bornstein’s bestseller, “How to Change the World.” However, the social entrepreneurship in China remains small in comparison to that in Western countries because of several barriers relating to funding, registration, and the lack of business-savvy talent in the sector.

Wang Li backed up Andrea’s talk with the story of his library, set up in a migrant community to encourage reading among children and adults. Wang runs a fee-paying elementary school in a separate community, and uses a portion of the profits to fund the library; a social enterprise combining education with charity. The ensuing discussion among the guests touched on topics ranging from the controversy of overhead costs for social enterprise to predictions of what lies ahead for the sector.


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3/23/13: Alternatives to Factory Farming in China? – Jeff Zhou, China Representative of Compassion in World Farming

Compassion in World Farming is an NGO which campaigns to end all cruel factory farming practices through undercover investigations exposing the realities of modern intensive farming systems. They have contributed to landmark agreements such as outlawing the barren battery cage for egg-laying hens as well as banning/restricting narrow veal crates and sow stalls across Europe.

CIWF’s work in China includes collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to draft an animal welfare law for China and campaigning against a British foie gras farm to be set up in China rumoured to employ inhumane practices during production. Jeff Zhou, China representative from Compassion in World Farming, joined us this evening accompanied by a farmer who cooperates with CWF’s programmes locally for a discussion on the challenges of circumventing cruel farming practices when purchasing food and the possibility of feeding the world without factory farming.

Compassion Farming

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3/9/13: Migrant issues in China – Representatives Li Tao of The Facilitator and Zhang Zhi Qiang of Friends of Migrant Workers

The rights of migrant workers remain on the agenda of the Chinese government for their relevance to Chinese society, international labour law, and social issues of all kinds ranging from children’s education to healthcare. While Western organisations and media certainly address the topic, Chinese NGOs arguably have far greater insight and influence into challenges and potential solutions for migrant workers facing problems concerning insurance, education for their children, legal representation, and safe working conditions.

migrantTonight BCD invited two representatives from Chinese NGOs to give us their insider’s view on the situation facing migrant workers in China today. Mr. Li works at The Facilitator, an organisation which aims to help migrant workers integrate into the societies in which they work through legal aid provision, entertainment facilities, training lectures, and study groups. Mr. Zhang works in the Legal Consultancy Service Centre of Friends of Migrant Workers, offering legal aid to migrant workers as well as campaigning for the development of schools for their children.

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11/17/12: Improving Care at Orphanages – Half the Sky Foundation Executive Director Carma Elliot

Half the Sky Foundation is China’s largest international NGO, operating early childhood and development programmes for underage orphans living in government-run institutions. It was established in China in 1998 and currently has 1350 staff working in 52 cities across China.

HTS-2Executive Director Carma Elliot spoke to us this evening about HTS’ work, unique relationship with the government, and plans for the future. She addressed the family-like care programmes provided by the organisation to support the children’s basic but essential needs, as well as its critical care home for medically fragile orphans in Beijing which treats 250 children from across China per year. She also spoke of  HTS’ plans to increase work in collaboration with Chinese philanthropists in the future; already, Half the Sky’s Rainbow Programme launched in 2011 aims to certify and co-train the entire child welfare profession in five years.


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11/10/12: China’s Approach to Mental Health Issues – China Programme Manager of Basic Needs Erla Magnusdottir

Basic Needs is an NGO that works to enable people with mental illnesses to live and work successfully by giving them access to treatment in their own communities. They train local government officials and doctors  to improve care for mentally ill people. They also carry out research into the problems facing the mentally ill to improve their approach to establishing sustainable livelihoods.

China Programme Manager Erla Magnusdottir shared her expertise this evening on the challenges faced by the mentally ill in China, outlining her NGO’s work on mental health issues and how it affects us all. She spoke of the difficulties of transferring the momentum that exists regarding mental health at a national level down to lower level governments and the problems of social stigma and poverty surrounding mental health patients in China.

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10/13/12: Land expropriation and farmer’s rights in China – Landesa Representative

Eighty six million Chinese farming families now have secure land tenure to 162 million acres – the size of the states of California and Maine combined. However, substantial threats remain ranging from poorly compensated takings of land to coercive land leases to developers. Tonight a representative from Landesa’s Beijing branch joined us at dinner to discuss the challenges facing farmers in China today and the non-profit sector’s efforts to address them.

Landesa works to alleviate poverty by helping the rural population secure land rights worldwide. Its recommendations have been incorporated into influential policy and legislative changes over the last two decades, giving China’s 200 million farming families greater confidence in their security.


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9/15/12: Empowerment through Participatory Theater – Hua Dan General Manager Fen Dong

Tonight we welcomed Fen Dong to BCD to tell us about Hua Dan, a unique social enterprise dedicated to using theatre to inspire the full potential of marginal members of society. A project of the Scheherazade Foundation, Hua Dan is one of the first organisations in China dedicated to pioneering the uses and applications of participatory and educational theatre.  Their work includes delivering inspirational workshops in partnership with community organisations and commercial enterprises, empowering individuals from all classes of society with skills that improve their employability, social mobility and quality of life, and training migrant workers to be professional arts practitioners, project managers and branch leaders of Hua Dan, lifting them out of poverty and enabling them to participate equally in mainstream society.

Hua Dan

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We dined at Chahua Meizi Yunnan Restaurant on Xinjiekou Nanjie, Xicheng district (near Guixiangcun.)

9/1/12: China’s Foreign Policy towards North Korea and the South China Sea – An Analysis by the International Crisis Group’s Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt and Qin Liwen

The International Crisis Group’s Northeast Asia Director Stephanie Kleine Ahlbrandt and Senior Analyst Qin Liwen joined us at Dongbei Ren Restaurant this week for a discussion on China’s increasingly pronounced position in Asia Pacific, its support of a belligerent North Korea, and what this means for stability in the region in the coming years. Their project has just published two reports on the South China Sea and one on North Korea (and Stephanie just returned from her fourth DPRK trip).

During the dinner we debated the key questions:

Does China’s increasingly pronounced positions in the Asia-Pacific show that Deng Xiaoping’s principle of “keeping a low profile” is no longer guiding foreign policy? In addition to denouncing the U.S. presence in the region and supporting a belligerent North Korea, China has adopted a more muscular approach to enforcing its maritime claims in the South China Sea.What does all of this mean for regional stability? How can we expect China to use its growing power position in the coming years?

The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict. It recently published two reports on the South China Sea and one on North Korea; with 159,000 subscribers and over 5000 advocacy meetings with policymakers every year, their reports certainly carry weight in the decision-making processes of international relations.


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8/25/12: Ethnic Education in Yunnan – Prop Roots Co-founders Li Yang and Anton Lustig

This week’s dinner was accompanied by a fascinating discussion with Li Yang and Dr. Anton Lustig, co-founders of Prop Roots, a non-profit which works on education and empowerment for children in the Jingpo ethnic minority community in rural western Yunnan. Anton Lustig has spent over twenty years studying the Jingpo language, and aims to ‘Empower Jingpo children with their own culture and creativity’, as their slogan reads. Prop Roots is currently building a children’s education centre in which classes in language and creativity will be held, with children presenting their work to visitors. See the interview below or their Facebook website for more information on Prop Roots’ work.

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