China is galloping towards cementing a dystopian future for its people.
The Chinese communists are expanding to businesses their “social credit system,” which gives every Chinese citizen a social credit rating that is like your Equifax credit score with one big exception: it applies to EVERYTHING that you do in your life.
Under China’s social credit system, a person can be penalized for things such as jaywalking, playing loud music, eating on a train, inappropriate use of your car’s high beams, making reservations at hotels or restaurants but not showing up, failing to pay cellphone bills promptly, failing to pick up take-out foods ordered, and more.
Meanwhile, refusing to agree with Chinese communist propaganda won’t just hurt your social score but likely hurt your body in the form of corporeal punishment.
On the other hand, making blood donations or doing volunteer work may boost one’s credit score.
A low social credit score can get you banned from traveling by high-speed rail, leaving the country or your province, exclude you from certain schools or from living in certain neighborhoods, and limit your job opportunities.
As of June 2019, according to the National Development and Reform Commission of China, 26.82 million airplane tickets, as well as 5.96 million high-speed rail tickets, had been denied to people who were deemed “untrustworthy (失信)” (on a blacklist).
Just how extreme is China willing to take this?
As of January 1 2017 in the Chinese city of Jinan, dog owners lose 3 points for keeping their dogs off-leash in public places, not cleaning up after their dog, or allowing their dogs to disturb other people. Dog owners lose another 3 points after a second violation. After a third violation, your dog is confiscated by the government and you are banned from owning a dog for a period of 5 years!
Now China is taking this same dystopian social credit scheme and applying it to businesses, rewarding companies for “approved” behavior and punishing companies for unapproved behavior.
Boy, if that doesn’t sound like a statist Democrat’s dream, I don’t know what is.
The anodyne-sounding China Economic & Security Review Commission (CSCS) is spearheading the initiative by gathering information on companies from at least 44 state agencies in every province across the country.
“The scale of this data aggregation scheme cannot be overstated,” according to a consulting firm named Trivium China that produced a 95-page report on the matter for the U.S. government.
“In a U.S. context, this would be roughly equivalent to the IRS, FBI, EPA, USDA, FDA, HHS, HUD, Department of Energy, Department of Education, and every courthouse, police station, and state agency sharing records across a single platform.”
The Chinese communists plan to “penalize companies with poor compliance records by reducing their access to the market and subjecting them to public censure via ‘blacklists,’ while rewarding consistently-compliant companies with economic incentives and public praise via ‘redlists,’” the report said.
“It’s possible that corporate social credit is one day leveraged as a trade war weapon, either in an unsanctioned capacity by local regulators, or in a tacitly sanctioned capacity by the central government,” said Kendra Schaefer, head of research at Trivium China and the report’s main author. “But it’s not what the designers say the system was initially designed to do.”
Of course, if there is a creepy, disturbing, and ethics-shattering application to any technology China will be the first to exploit it.
“China’s push towards the rapid, large-scale consolidation of government data, of which the CSCS is a part, has the potential to enhance the bureaucratic efficiency, predictive capacity, and regulatory responsiveness of the Chinese state, which could, in turn, enhance Party legitimacy and control in China and in other countries,” the report said.
China is putting to the test their theory of government: as bureaucracy grows it typically decreases in inefficiency. Up until now, this has been as close to an iron law as it gets in political science. China is now contesting this theory. One question is whether the agility conferred to the authoritarian Chinese communist party by an unchecked top-down government by dictate outweighs the attendant rampant corruption of the system.
China is expected to announce a new five-year strategic plan for the corporate social credit system by year’s end.