Whether the world likes it or not, China’s Social Credit System (SCS) is fast leaving its impact not only on Chinese soil, but also around the world, affecting the policies of international businesses. And unless this threat of the SCS is handled as quickly as possible, there is a real risk that companies across the world might end up being so influenced by the Social Credit System that they will start acting exactly the way the Chinese Communist Party wants.
The Social Credit System
Beijing introduced the Social Credit System to manage its citizens by taking into account multiple factors like income, debt, behavior, legal standing, and so on. The aim is to rank citizens so as to determine who is eligible for the benefits offered by the Chinese society and in what magnitude they should be assigned.
The Social Credit System is applied to everything from loans, health care, university admissions, dating, and more. The higher your score, the greater the benefits you will receive. For instance, some hospitals allow people with a good Social Credit Score to avoid having to wait in line and to visit the doctor as soon as they arrive.
People with good scores are also able to rent cars without having to pay a deposit. When it comes to dating, several Chinese apps allow men with good scores better visibility, increasing their chances of getting a date and potential life partner.
Your score can take a hit if you fail in paying your electric bill on time, default on debt repayments, engage in illegal activity, post fake product reviews online, and so on. Once your score is down, you will have to work extra hard to bring it back up.
As long as your Social Credit Score is low, you will be punished by having to pay higher interest rates on loans and bigger deposits when renting and will get lower visibility in dating apps, etc. People found engaging in ideologies deemed to be against the Communist Party will also get their scores reduced.
Launched in 2014, the Social Credit System is expected to be implemented nationwide by the year 2020. In addition to citizens, businesses are also brought under the scope of the SCS.
Not just limited to China
Though the Social Credit System is thought to be implemented to control Chinese citizens alone, a closer scrutiny reveals the danger that it might soon encompass the entire world and morph global opinion to align with Chinese Communist Party views. This is because the Social Credit System is applicable even to international companies that operate in China.
“As businesses continue to comply [with the Social Credit System], the acceptance of the CCP’s claims will eventually become an automatic decision and hence a norm that interferes with the sovereignty of other nations. For members of the public on the receiving end of such changes, the CCP’s narrative becomes the dominant ‘truth’ and alternative views and evidence are marginalised. This narrative control affects individuals in China, Chinese and international businesses, other states and their citizens,” warns a report.
Signs of such a change were visible in the decisions of a few airlines from the U.S. and Australia which removed Taiwan from being mentioned on their websites in order to keep Beijing happy and their score high so that they could continue operating profitably in China.
Giving up control to the government and having the larger body exert influence on personal lives has been a central tenet of the socialist system. One by one, the policies will ensure that the individual loses control over his rights and hands them over to the people in power. This is a dangerous precedent that ought to be cut off right at the onset.