Friday, February 22, 2019

Vox Popoli: A tale of two social credit systems

In truth, the Chinese system sounds considerably more just and rather preferable to the current US system:
Millions of Chinese individuals and businesses have been labelled as untrustworthy on an official blacklist banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or travelling by air or train, as the use of the government’s social credit system accelerates.

The annual blacklist is part of a broader effort to boost “trustworthiness” in Chinese society and is an extension of China’s social credit system, which is expected to give each of its 1.4 billion citizens a personal score.

The social credit system assigns both positive and negative scores for individual or corporate behaviour in an attempt to pressure citizens into behaving.

Human rights advocates, though, worry that the arbitrary system does not take into account individual circumstances and so often unfairly labels individuals and firms as untrustworthy.

Over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist last year, banning them from a series of activities, including bidding on projects, accessing security markets, taking part in land auctions and issuing corporate bonds, according to the 2018 annual report released by the National Public Credit Information Centre. The centre is backed by the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, to run the credit rating system.

According to the report, the authorities collected over 14.21 million pieces of information on the “untrustworthy conduct” of individuals and businesses, including charges of swindling customers, failing to repay loans, illegal fund collection, false and misleading advertising, as well as uncivilised behaviour such as taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals.

About 17.46 million “discredited” people were restricted from buying plane tickets and 5.47 million were restricted from purchasing high-speed train tickets, the report said. Besides restrictions on buying tickets, local authorities also used novel methods to put pressure on untrustworthy subjects, including preventing people from buying premium insurance, wealth management products or real estate, as well as shaming them by exposing their information in public.

Contrast this with the US system, where you can't go to college or get a job in academia if someone suspects of insufficient enthusiasm for blacks, gays, women, or [fill-in-the-blank], you can't have a bank account if someone believes you have engaged in hate speech, you can't raise funds if someone suspects you of insufficient enthusiasm for Jews, and you can't win government contracts if you don't agree to do business with Israel.

At least the Chinese know the score and know that the social credit system is based on upholding things the Chinese people traditionally support. Wouldn't most American people prefer a transparent system that actually benefits normal Americans and American traditions rather than an unpredictable one that benefits foreigners, degenerates, and foreign countries?