Opinion | China's Terrifying Social Credit System


Graphic of the Chinese Social Credit System


For anyone who argues in favor of larger government; the government being in control of more aspects of our lives; the government controlling "hate speech" or "dangerous speech", etc., take a good hard look at China's new "social credit system". The United States has already seen first hand how damaging social media boycotts, smear campaigns, etc can destroy an average citizens life.

The Chinese Government has already blocked several of its citizens from booking flights or trains as it seeks to implement its “social credit” system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behavior and activities. The system is currently scheduled to be officially introduced in 2020 and states it will attempt to make it “difficult to move” for those deemed “untrustworthy”, according to a detailed plan published by the government this week.

A major part of the social credit system seeks to not only blacklist people with low social credibility scores, but also “publicly disclosing the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis”. The plan stated: “We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.”

According to the state-run news outlet Global Times, as of May this year, the government had blocked 11.14 million people from flights and 4.25 million from taking high-speed train trips. Another 3 million people are barred from getting business class train tickets, according to Channel News Asia.

The aim, according to Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the development research centre of the State Council, is to make “discredited people become bankrupt”, he said earlier this year.

The eastern state of Hangzou, has already implemented the system which awarded credit points for activities such as undertaking volunteer work and giving blood donations while those who violate traffic laws and charge “under-the-table” fees, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online will be punished.

Punishments are not defined in the government plan, but beyond making travel difficult, are also believed to include slowing internet speeds, reducing access to good schools for individuals or their children, banning people from certain jobs, preventing booking at certain hotels and losing the right to own pets. The Chinese Government is literally analyzing its people based on how they act on buses, drive, and how customers of businesses rate them.

When plans for the social credit scheme were first announced in 2014, the government said the aim was to “broadly shape a thick atmosphere in the entire society that keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful”. Beijing residents to be targeted in 2020 with its 22 million residents facing being assessed.

The Chinese Government has stated that those with high social credit scores will get “green channel” benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult. As you can see from this list above this is absolutely scary on every level. You do not have to even break the law to have a low score. You can be reported for buying too many video games! Who will get to decide if what you are posting online is "Fake News"?

There is always room to disagree with our political opposition in our country on what our Government's role should be; however anyone who reads this and does not become immediately fearful of our government becoming bigger and/or more powerful is terrifying. If China succeeds with this "plan" you can rest assured there will be politicians in our own country that may attempt to implement something similar.

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