Published On: Wed, Mar 6th, 2019

How China Monitors And Judges Its Citizens

People were not allowed to buy airline and train tickets 23 million times because they have too few social credit points.

Monitor And Judge

Who secretly watches porn, spends too much time on computer games, blasphemes about the Communist Party, nurses his old parents only half-heartedly and does not pay punitive time on time? That gives deductions in the Chinese social credit ranking. On the other hand, anyone who orders healthy baby food on the Internet and reads particular newspapers receives advantages.

The Chinese government is working to educate itself as a communist model citizen, evaluating all data traces left by humans. Since mobile phones are an important means of payment in China and the major internet companies Alibaba and Tencent deliver their users’ data to the state, total surveillance is easy.

From 2020, the 1.3 billion people will be able to call up their own scores nationwide via a smartphone app. Currently, there are only model regions such as Shanghai with 26 million inhabitants. In one year, every Chinese citizen must be able to regularly show his social credit score, for example when buying a ticket or when applying for credit at the bank.

If a user has at least 1300 points, he gets the top grade AAA as with a rating agency. In addition to the authorities, banks, and employers, landlords, shopping platforms, tour operators and airlines also have access to the rating.

Exemplary citizens are rewarded with discounted loans or better health insurance. When awarding study places, a high score of parents should also have a positive effect on the children. On the other hand, those who fall below a value of 600 points end up in the worst category D.

In 2018, China’s state and party leadership refused to travel by air in around 17.5 million cases. Almost 5.5 million times travelers were not allowed to buy fast train tickets. This is in a report from the responsible social credit information center, which has now been published. These de facto restrictions on freedom of movement are designed to deter and educate people in China to behave better. Accordingly, the state media reported proudly and very positively about the numbers. It has made “great progress” in building the social credit system, wrote Global Times. The punitive measures were already affecting, literally, “dishonest subjects” in China.

Because the people with few points are socially outlawed, who shows up with such people, which also threatens to deduct points. Nothing works without a good rating, from checking in at the hotel to the children’s school attendance or job promotion.

Human rights groups strongly criticized the system. The US government calls China’s social credit system an “Orwellian system” that allows the state to control every facet of human life. “Ostensibly, the government wants this system to prevent illegal and immoral behavior among citizens and entrepreneurs in order to increase stability and security,” says German sinologist Kristin Shi-Kupfer. In fact, Beijing is concerned with “identifying potential social and political troublemakers early on and providing incentives for compliant behavior.”