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  • Gordon Dumoulin

"Reminiscent of 1984"... "Dystopia"... Shedding some reality behind China's 'Social Credit System'

Blacklists… data… credit scores… all sensationalized elements of the Chinese policy plan regularly blasted as reminiscent of 1984: the Social Credit System (SCM) in China.

Often compared with chilling dystopian science-fiction episodes, the topic has received breathless coverage from some members of the international media, but information is often inconsistent or saturated with alarmism.

On the other hand, Chinese officials tout it as a policy that expands financial services and improves law enforcement, a position often met with skepticism due to the authorities’ lack of transparency.

Making sense of “Social Credit System” and the reality of the policy in China can therefore be a challenge. In light of this, read following easy to read article by Radii China and paper by Xin Dai, associate professor at the Ocean University of China on what the SCM project actually is about.

'Into the Black Mirror: The Truth Behind China’s Social Credit System'

'Toward a Reputation State: The Social Credit System Project of China'

Few highlights from the article :

“Simply put, China’s Social Credit System (SCS) is a policy project that aims to incentivize lawful, honest behavior and expand financial services.” The term “Social Credit System” is problematic for various reasons. One, it makes the policy plan sound like a singular, coherent entity, when really it’s a “hodgepodge of public administration and legal reform initiatives”

Another problem is that the translated English term “social credit” is “desperately misleading”. “The Chinese phrase 社会信用 Shehui Xinyong, which would translate as ‘social credit’ could also have been translated as ‘public trust’. “There’s a lot of ways it could have been translated; it has a lot of meaning beyond what the phrase ‘social credit’ suggests to English speaking ears.

“In reality, I think the SCS by far is still largely a response to the very basic, practical difficulty in governing a large and complex country like China. Up till now many laws and regulations are simply under-enforced by a significant measure.” Some experts have made connections between policies bound up in the SCS project and laws in the U.S. In Xin Dai’s paper, for instance, he points out that public reputation lists also exist in the U.S, giving the sex offender’s list as one example or the revocation of an individual’s driver’s license when their state debt exceeds a certain amount.

#china #chinesegovernance #chinesesociety

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