China’s social credit system; the Dystopian future is here.

by | Jan 22, 2021 | Anonymous Living, Anonymous Travel, New Identity

China’s Social Credit System: An In-Depth Look


While not the first of its kind, China’s social credit system will be unique once fully implemented. This system goes beyond merely assigning scores to individuals. Despite comparisons to “Black Mirror” and “Big Brother,” the reality is more complex and, in many ways, more concerning.

The Origins and Development

The idea for social credit emerged in 2007, and by 2014, the government launched projects as an opt-in system. It is important to note that the official government system differs from private and corporate versions, which include shopping habits and friendships in their scoring. Unfortunately, people often confuse the two.

Understanding the Social Credit System

Credit Checks and Social Scores

Brits know credit checks well. Companies like Experian track our debt payments, providing scores for lenders and mortgage providers. Similarly, we also encounter social-style scores; for example, eBay shoppers rate each other on shipping times and communication, and Uber users rate drivers and passengers. Consequently, if your score drops too low, you face consequences.

Comprehensive Assessment

China’s social credit system extends this concept, evaluating all aspects of life to judge behaviour and trustworthiness. For instance, you could lose the right to book a flight or train ticket if you get caught jaywalking, miss a court payment, or play loud music on a train.

Implementation and Impact

Local vs. National Systems

Although the government aimed for full implementation by 2020, a single social credit system does not yet exist. Instead, local governments have their social record systems, while companies like Ant Financial Zhima Credit (Sesame Credit) operate in unofficial private versions.

Private Systems and Government Plans

People often confuse private systems like Sesame Credit with government plans, even though they are not part of the official system. Eventually, the government plans to use data collected by private companies. According to Sesame Credit, some of this data has already been used in government trials, albeit with user consent.

Data Collection and Privacy Concerns

Data collection happens with little protection and no transparency about how it is analyzed to produce scores or rankings. While Sesame Credit shares some information about data types, privacy concerns persist.

How the Social Credit System Works

Unified Social Credit Code

The government’s goal is a country-wide system where businesses receive a “unified social credit code,” and citizens get an identity number linked to a permanent record. For instance, “You can go to a credit China website, enter an entity’s credit code, and access credit records,” Hoffman explains. “Individuals will have ID-linked codes.”

Blocklist and Penalties

Reports mention a blocklist as part of the official government social credit system. Specifically, you could lose certain rights if you owe money to the government. It’s important to distinguish between getting a low social credit score and being blocklisted by the government.

Case Study: Liu Hu

Journalist Blocklisted

Liu Hu, a journalist in China who exposes censorship and government corruption, has faced arrest, fines, and blockages due to his work. Consequently, he was on the List of Dishonest Persons Subject to Enforcement by the Supreme People’s Court. This means he couldn’t buy plane tickets, travel on certain train lines, purchase property, or secure loans.

Consequences of Blocklisting

“There was no file, police warrant, or official advance notification. They just cut me off from the things I was once entitled to,” Liu told The Globe and Mail. “What’s scary is there’s nothing you can do about it. You can report to no one. You are stuck in the middle of nowhere.”

Recourse and Legal Actions

You can pay your bill or appeal to the court to be removed from a government blocklist. As Jing Zeng, a researcher at the University of Zurich, notes, “Bring your money to the court, and then you get removed from the system.”

Case Study: Rongcheng City

Local Implementation

In Rongcheng, residents start with 1,000 points. Authorities deduct points for bad behaviour, such as traffic violations, and add points for good behaviour, like donating to charity. One regulation explicitly addresses stealing electricity.

Monitoring and Reporting

Of course, you’ll have to get caught first or be reported by someone else. While facial recognition spots jaywalkers in some cities, it’s not always automated, Ohlberg notes.

Case Study: Sesame Credit

Private Project

Sesame Credit gathers data on its 400 million customers, from video game usage (negative) to parenthood (positive). This data can also be shared with other companies.

Social Credit Integration

For example, Sesame Credit is linked with the Baihe dating site, allowing partners to judge each other on looks and social credit scores. Participation is currently voluntary. However, the official social credit system will become mandatory. Already, there’s pressure to participate. “There are incentives for participating and disincentives for not participating,” Hoffman notes.

Potential for Abuse and Ethical Concerns

Misuse of Power

China’s justice system lacks genuine protection for those subject to it. “There is no genuine protection for the people and entities subject to the system,” says Hoffman. “In China, there is no such thing as the rule of law.”

International Compliance

In April 2018, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) demanded international airlines show Taiwan as part of China. Subsequently, the government threatened to record severe dishonesty and take disciplinary actions against those who didn’t comply. Eventually, all airlines complied.

Government Pressure

This pressure was part of the Civil Aviation Industry Credit Measures, a pilot for the official social credit system.

The Role of Surveillance

Statewide Surveillance

China’s social credit scheme is part of its extensive surveillance state. The government controls web content tightly and monitors and censors social media.

Advanced Facial Recognition

China has advanced facial recognition systems that can track people across entire cities. For instance, in late 2017, Chinese officials working with BBC News demonstrated how they could locate a reporter within seven minutes.

Case Study: Xinjiang

China’s vast digital control operations are tested in Xinjiang, the northwest region. The predominantly Muslim Uighur minority faces increased surveillance and discrimination. Over 500,000 face scans of Uighurs have been conducted.

Implications and Global Impact

Effect on Citizens

The full impact on Chinese citizens is hard to determine because the system isn’t fully in place yet. Zeng suggests the reality lies between the government’s claims and the Western media’s dystopian portrayals.

International Concerns

Hoffman says other countries should not consider this idea. “The West should not copy any aspect of social credit.” Comparisons to private applications like Uber’s rating system for customers and drivers are often fundamentally different.

Human Rights Violations

China is an authoritarian country with a long history of human rights violations. The Chinese Communist Party’s actions in Xinjiang highlight these issues. No liberal democratic society should consider adopting a similar social credit system.


China’s social credit system represents a significant shift in governing through technology. While it aims to build trust and ensure accountability, it raises serious ethical and privacy concerns. The potential for misuse and abuse of power is high, making it a controversial topic worldwide.

For those interested in learning more about the implications of social credit systems or seeking guidance on related matters, contacting professionals at Amicus International Consulting can provide valuable insights and assistance.

If you want to work with a professional team to help you transition to a life of freedom, contact Amicus Int. for New Identity services today.

If you would like to work with a professional team that can help make your transition to a life of freedom, contact Amicus Int. for New Identity services today.