Nearly 20 percent of the world’s population could lose access to the ministry efforts of Western Christians next year.

In April, China passed new regulations that will affect its more than 7,000 foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) by requiring that they register with the local police and find an in-country partner.

China also banned foreign NGOs from engaging in or funding religious activities. The measure could expel Christian groups that are doing medical, developmental, or educational work in the world’s largest country by population, with 1.4 billion people.

China’s move is significant because of the number of people affected. But other countries have been moving in this direction for years.

While the laws vary, they often regulate overseas funding and the number of working visas an NGO can offer. Some require regular—and occasionally onerous—registration with the government.

For example, India now requires NGOs to report foreign donations within 15 days and to confirm that the money is not used for activities “likely to prejudicially affect the . . . interests of the state.” Since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, India has cut off foreign funding from more than 13,000 NGOs.

China’s crackdown happened despite the fact that many countries benefit greatly from welcoming foreign groups, said Arch Puddington, senior vice president for research at Freedom House. That’s because outside of the United States, few nations have cultures where citizens are accustomed to financially supporting civil society through private funds.

“In some cases, local NGOs lack the expertise or capacity to address health problems or education issues,” said Puddington. ...

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