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China blocked 23M citizens from traveling through their social credit score

The China Eastern ticketing counters at Xi'an Xianyang Int'l Airport, China (Sunnya343/WikiCommons)
March 06, 2019

Chinese citizens who engage in poor behavior risk the opportunity to travel by train or plane thanks to the communist country’s strict social credit system rules.

China has implemented a social credit system that basically punishes a person for specific offenses, like unpaid taxes, jaywalking, smoking in public, taking drugs, or walking their dogs without a leash, Fox News reported.

The Communist country has already banned millions of people from traveling by placing them on blacklists with the philosophy that this will give them an incentive to rectify their untrustworthy behavior.

Unlike the U.S. credit score system which is purely financial and related to the borrowing of money, China’s is much more expansive. The Chinese system does prevent consumers from buying insurance or real estate, but it also bans them from traveling.

“China’s supreme court said in 2017 that 6.15 million citizens had been barred from taking flights because of social credit offenses. In 2018, China’s National Development and Reform Commission banned 128 people from leaving China because of unpaid taxes,” the Guardian reported.

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Government documents from 2014 say the goal of the social credit system is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to the Guardian.

Chinese journalist Liu Hu, who writes about censorship and corruption in China, has been fined and even arrested in the past. He has been added to a blacklist and deemed a dishonest person, therefore, he cannot travel or apply for any type of social credit.

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

Samantha Hoffman, a non-resident fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said, “Often comparisons are drawn between private applications like Uber and its rating system for customers and drivers. While these private company systems are extremely problematic in my view, they are fundamentally different. The People’s Republic of China is an authoritarian country, the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for gross human rights violations for decades… There is nothing any liberal democratic society should even think about copying in the social credit system.”

However, the Chinese government disagrees. Their authoritarian system has forced some 3.5 million people to come forward and pay their back taxes.