The Chinese government’s mandated social credit system is designed to keep a watchful ever-seeing eye over its 1.4 billion citizens to determine each individual’s “trustworthiness” in society.
In the 2018 annual report released by China’s National Public Credit Information Centre, it is reported that 17.46 million people were banned from purchasing airplane tickets while 5.47 million were banned from purchasing high-speed train tickets.
Individuals and businesses with low social credit scores are restricted from accessing better quality services such as financial security markets, land auction participation, better housing, or premium travel options.
Failing to pay loans, illegally soliciting money, false advertising, and taking reserved seats on public transport are just some of the ways in which individuals and business can get blacklisted in the system.
The report says that 14.21 million pieces of information on such “untrustworthy conduct” had been collected just last year.
In addition, more than 3.56 million Chinese business had been blacklisted in 2018. Two of which include the much publicised medical scandals from Quanjian Group and Changsheng Bio-Technonology.
Quanjian Group, a company creating healthcare products, allegedly made false advertising claims about its cancer medicine while Changsheng Bio-Technology, a manufacturer of rabies vaccines, was accused of falsifying documents and fined US$1.3 billion for damages.
3.51 million individuals deemed “untrustworthy” also paid due fines, loans, and taxes last year in order to boost their credit score.
Being blacklisted causes severe damage to an individual’s and an enterprise’s social reputation, and the grave consequences for “misbehaving” and having a low social credit score have just begun to manifest.
Despite the dystopian implications of China’s massive government surveillance, figures show that 80 percent of surveyed Chinese citizens approve the use of the social credit system agreeing that it ensures good public behaviour and business practices.
China’s social credit system has been widely criticised as a violation of an individual’s right to privacy and a “nightmare” that pressures citizens into conforming to socially accepted behaviour.
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