Authored by Gordon Chang via The Gatestone Institute,
China’s “social credit” system, which will assign every person a constantly updated score based on observed behaviors, is designed to control conduct by giving the ruling Communist Party the ability to administer punishments and hand out rewards. The former deputy director of the State Council’s development research center says the system should be administered so that “discredited people become bankrupt”.
Officials prevented Liu Hu, a journalist, from taking a flight because he had a low score. According to the Communist Party-controlled Global Times, as of the end of April 2018, authorities had blocked individuals from taking 11.14 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed rail trips.
Chinese officials are using the lists for determining more than just access to planes and trains. “I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school,” Liu said. “You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time.”
Chinese leaders have long been obsessed with what Jiang Zemin in 1995 called “informatization, automation, and intelligentization,” and they are only getting started Given the capabilities they are amassing, they could, the argument goes, make defiance virtually impossible. The question now is whether the increasingly defiant Chinese people will accept President Xi’s all-encompassing vision.
By 2020, Chinese officials plan to have about 626 million surveillance cameras operating throughout the country. Those cameras will, among other things, feed information into a national “social credit system.”
That system, when it is in place in perhaps two years, will assign to every person in China a constantly updated score based on observed behaviors. For example, an instance of jaywalking, caught by one of those cameras, will result in a reduction in score.
Although officials might hope to reduce jaywalking, they seem to have far more sinister ambitions, such as ensuring conformity to Communist Party political demands. In short, the government looks as if it is determined to create what the Economist called “the world’s first digital totalitarian state.”
China’s President Xi Jinping is not merely an authoritarian leader.