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China’s Social Credit Program Has Already Blocked 11 Million Flights

China’s new “social credit” rating system is still in trial mode but already has far-reaching social and economic impacts. The program aims to reward law-abiding and responsible citizens but punishes behavior deemed dishonorable. The punitive aspect of the ranking system has already cancelled over “11.14 million flights and 4.25 million high-speed train trips” according to a Chinese official.

In addition to making it impossible for millions of people to travel as punishment for social infractions, a list of 33,000 companies that violated civic responsibilities was also published. The blacklisted companies will have a hard time regaining public confidence as a result of the listing, and private individuals may also be blacklisted for “sinning” against the state and other citizens. Individuals and business entities will be punished for any social offenses, but they can also be rewarded for positive social contributions.

A Social Credit System Is For Every Chinese Citizen 

The system for rewarding and punishing citizens began in China in 2014, but the government is currently test-running the program with full implementation slated for 2020. Citizens will be rated and socially credited for all online activities and offline behaviors.

Individuals that behave responsibly in a manner that increases people’s trust and reliability in them will earn positive social credit ratings. Those that do things that cause distrust and social negativities will be negatively ranked in the system.

Some of the misdeeds for which Chinese citizens could be penalized under the new social credit system include:

  • Late payment in paying credit card fees
  • Lateness in settling utility bills
  • Failure to clear a debt or settle a loan
  • Jaywalking
  • Using fake identity cards
  • Failure to pay government taxes
  • Failure to have a mandatory insurance in place
  • Overspending at shopping stores
  • Posting idle and misleading posts on the internet

Many Chinese Citizens Say the Program Has Made Them Better Persons

Any of these misdemeanors will incur a bad social credit ranking for the offender. His travel plans may be restricted, and the government may make it impossible for him to travel by air or train. That is not all; the individual may be punished with denial to premium educational institutions and five-star hotels. He may also be considered ineligible for government jobs and bank loans as well as slammed with blocked internet access.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction to building a society with credibility,” states Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

Incidentally, government officials reveal trials of the social credit system have been a huge success among a significant population of the entire citizenry. This goes a long way to indicate that a nationwide application of the program may be rolled out as scheduled by 2020. Thousands of Chinese citizens equally express satisfaction with the pilot tests, saying it has helped them to evolve into better persons in the society.

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