Chinese Social Control By Credit Score

One of the advantages of the western world’s mainstream media blackout on All Things Chinese is that a good number of us here in the U. S. of A. have little to no understanding of what’s really going on over there.

Ignorance is bliss, as they say, and we ignore the chilling, high-tech totalitarian society that is developing rapidly in the Asian Communist superpower.

A new point-based social credit score rating system reinforced by government-sponsored peer pressure is proving to be very effective when it comes to enforcing the officially-proscribed community standards. The Communists’ will be done. And soon.

The China national Social Credit System has been in the works since 2014 and is expected to blanket the entire country by 2020.

The digitally-savvy Chinese government has set up powerful “geek squads” to build an all-encompassing, country-wide, networked computer database. Personal information of all kinds from every Chinese resident can be fed into the system at every opportunity: from a baby’s birth certificate, when applying for a driver’s license, mortgage, or library card.

The computer software is able to weave together personal data of every conceivable type for the purpose of total government control:

[The Social Credit System] “is based on a complete network covering the credit records of members of society and credit infrastructure, it is supported by the lawful application of credit information and a credit services system, its inherent requirements are establishing the idea of a sincerity culture, and carrying forward sincerity and traditional virtues, it uses encouragement to keep trust and constraints against breaking trust as incentive mechanisms, and its objective is raising the honest mentality and credit levels of the entire society.”

Ironically, the keyword behind China’s social credit score system is “trustworthiness.” Debtors can’t be trusted and undermine society. Therefore, they must be publicly humiliated and subject to community snitching – all in the name of social order, civility, and convenience.

Are you creeped out yet?

An article from Chinese newspaper Baidu dated November 18, 2017, reported that Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province in East China, had rolled out its local social credit score system for residents aged 18 years and up.

The Chinese personal credit score is called “Qian Jiangfen.” Points are called “Qianjiang.”

“Qianjiang points” apply to a 1,000-point system which is divided into five levels. Users who score lower than 550 points need to improve their credit; 550-600 points are generally credit-worthy; 600-700 points show a good credit score; 700-750 credit is excellent; and 750-1,000 points are the hallmark of the most “trustworthy” Chinese citizens.

“For the general public who are working properly and obeying the law, ‘Qianjiang’ is generally between 600 and 750 points,” according to the Hangzhou commission in East China.

As long as a resident has a social credit score of 700 points or more, these good Communists “will enjoy a more convenient life and better service in Hangzhou.”

The Hangzhou government claims that the Qian Jiangfen is “an important part of promoting the construction of urban personal integrity.” As an added bonus, social credit scores are “an effective way to visualize the honesty and trustworthiness of the citizens.”

The Hangzhou Municipal Development and Reform Commission combined information obtained from the municipal public credit information network, the citizen card business system data resources, and Hangzhou Citizen Card Company to calculate individual credit-based numeric scores.

A 10-year lookback reviews individual the good, the bad, and the ugly: contributions to the general public welfare or public services that demonstrate a person’s positive “social attributes” translate into positive credit points.

There are other ways to boost a Chinese social rating: serve the Communists. “The fifth dimension, prosocial behavior, refers to the degree of social contribution. For example, if you go to volunteer service and donate blood for free, you can add points to your ‘Qianjiang points,'” according to the Hangzhou commission.

But lawbreakers will not be so lucky. Overdue loans, having a low income, and arrears in one’s living expenses will downgrade the Qianjiang points. Court defaults, crimes, and being on a government blacklist will have an even bigger negative impact on the individual’s social credit score.

These miscreants will be refused all manner of social services, including being able to buy bus or train tickets or pay late rent before an eviction.

Today, the “Qianjiang Branch” system in Hangzhou collects and analyzes personal credit data only on an opt-in basis. Users must consent to participate in the new social judgment program.

“After obtaining the user’s authorization, Qianjiang Branch collects the characteristics of urban credit variables in various fields such as government affairs, economy, justice, life, and public welfare, and calculates the credit scores of users through a scientific statistical comprehensive evaluation model to form a personal credit portrait,” reported Baidu.

But think about it: how many Communist Chinese would dare say “No thank you” to a program that, in a future when opting out were no longer an option, the same system would lower their score for hesitating to conform to the new social norm?

In April 2018, the Chinese city of Rongcheng introduced its social credit score system. Citizens may pick theirs up at the city hall, “a glass building that resembles a flying saucer” which operates “as a one-stop shop for most permits.”

He Junning is the deputy director of the Rongcheng Social Credit Management Office. His community has 740,000 adults living there. Here is how Rongcheng keeps score of its citizenry’s trustworthiness:

Traffic ticket: -5 points

Earn a city-level award (commit a heroic act, have an exemplary business, or help your family through unusually difficult circumstances: +30 points

Earn a department-level award: +5 points

Credits are also added for donating to charity or volunteering in the city’s program.

Public boards in Rongcheng explain how points are won or lost. Images of the highest scorers are often displayed and “passersby talk about them with pride.”

Rongcheng resident Chen (32) said, “At first, we just worried about losing points, but now we got used to it.”