Credit or Control? Unpacking China’s Social Credit System

The Chinese national social credit system is a national framework that aims to promote trustworthiness (chengxin) among citizens and businesses through a scoring mechanism. Through analyzing data from various sources, it assigns scores based on compliance with legal, social, as well as economic norms. Positive behaviour such as timely payment of taxes and volunteering, earns rewards. However, behaviour such as fraud and the spread of misinformation incurs penalties. Experts describe the platform used to dictate companies’ social credit as “roughly equivalent to the IRS, FBI, EPA, USDA, FDA, HHS, HUD, Department of Energy, Department of Education, and every courthouse, police station, and major utility company in the US sharing regulatory records across a single platform.” The use of citizens’ behavior to dictate social credit has also sparked debate over its implications for privacy, freedom and potential social control.

Key Judgment 1. It is likely that the Chinese social credit system can be used as a means of societal management potentially reducing dissent or disruptive behavior.

Key Judgment 2. It is highly likely that reporting on the Chinese social credit system has contributed conception that to the misconception that it operates on a single centralized platform. 

Key Judgment 3. It is likely that authorities use the social credit system to sinicize religion and other thought within the population.

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