This chapter explains why, although the Chinese state has no. granted an institutionalized space for civil society. It examines the Xi Jinping leadership's multi-fold endeavors to reformat the space allotted to social organizations, religious associations, the media, and academics according to the state's goals, underlining a common logic across different sectors. During the Hu-Wen era, civil society was hence performing a functional role in the way the Chinese regime was operating, namely by acting as an ad hoc and flexible counter-power integrated into the system exempting the Party from formally implementing institutional reforms. Following on the heels of sustained crackdown on domestic civil society and ratcheting up of pressure on international non-governmental organisation (NGOs), the legal framework in 2016 governing the third sector has shifted dramatically. The Overseas NGO Management Law, which came into force in January 2017, establishes procedures for foreign-based organizations, but also organizations from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao, to register formally and conduct activities in China.