The totalitarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will implement a new national classification system for its citizens and businesses in 2020, known as “social credit,” currently in the trial stage.
The gigantic operation, which has raised much concern globally, consists of the collection and control of all data relating to the daily lives of individuals and businesses in a system that then decides who is a “good citizen” and who is not, as explained by Visual Capitalist.
Many voices question the ethics of this system and fear that it may be used to violate fundamental human rights.
In fact, a similar system, but without today’s sophisticated digital means, was already implemented by dictator Mao Zedong—leader of the CCP from 1949 until his death in 1976.
This consisted of creating records of each and every Chinese citizen: school reports, employment records, physical characteristics, and photographs. This system, says Visual Capitalist, was called dang’an.
Total Control: Chinese ‘Big Brother’
Social credit is already active in trials throughout China and consists of each citizen being assigned 1,000 initial points in an application that monitors all the daily actions of a person: their purchases, their telephone conversations, their communications (chats, emails), who they visit and when, and according to this those points increase or decrease.
There are actions that the state considers “good,” such as donating blood, visiting the elderly, or publicly praising the goodness of the CCP; and others are considered “bad,” such as cheating in a game, not visiting your elders and something called “spreading rumors on the Internet,” a very ambiguous term that would include any commentary criticizing the regime and the CCP.
One action that reduces points with this system is to have relationships with “bad citizens,” so that the state ensures that whoever does not behave as expected becomes a social pariah with whom even his family is afraid to relate.
In another method of controlling people’s behavior, the state can at any time change the call melody of all mobile phones in the country, so that when a person receives a call a recording would sound saying, “The person you are calling has been listed as a discredited person by the local court. Please urge this person to fulfill his or her legal obligations.”
These techniques—public derision and social ridicule—were already used during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), a dark period in China’s history during which the CCP destroyed most of the ancestral Asian country’s cultural heritage and resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people.
In this sophisticated system, points are essential for daily life: to be able to access a job or a promotion, to be able to send your children to school or to buy a plane or train ticket.
In 2018 alone, people with few points were banned from buying airline tickets 18 million times, and 5.5 million train ticket purchases were blocked, according to the Visual Capitalist report.
As for how this points system affects companies, they will be controlled in matters of taxes, customs regulations, and environmental protection.
The “good” companies will be able to enjoy lower taxes and better credit conditions.
Big data, the latest in digital control
According to a report by Australia’s Strategic Policy Institute, the technology-enhanced authoritarianism of the Chinese communist regime is expanding globally through 5G technologies and cybersurveillance and espionage.
“By leveraging state-owned enterprises, Chinese technology companies and partnerships with foreign entities—including Western universities—the CCP is building a massive data-collection enterprise that gives it control over large data flows.”
The report stresses that data collection is the means used by the Chinese communist regime to generate the information it needs to manage and control its global operating environment and to manipulate public sentiment so that it is favorable to its own interests.
“The CCP’s interests are prioritized over the Chinese state’s interests and the Chinese people’s interests,” the report added.
In another report before the House Intelligence Committee of the U.S. Congress in May this year, Dr. Samantha Hoffman, an analyst at Australia’s Strategic Policy Institute, highlighted the Chinese regime’s use of technology to expand its authoritarianism.
“The U.S. government must find short-term solutions to the problems at hand but not at the expense of committing to long-term strategy for dealing with China’s tech enhanced authoritarianism,” Hoffman said.
“How precisely China’s tech-enhanced authoritarianism will evolve cannot be fully known, but the CCP’s objectives are known. These should be taken seriously,” she added.