Expected to be fully implemented by 2020, China’s compulsory ‘social credit’ system has been promoted to sound a lot like a normal market economic credit rating system.
Says Chong Jiyah, manager of Alipay: “Once a person has a score, all their credit behavior in life is recorded and can be evaluated by that number. Our goal is to ensure that if people keep their promises, they can go anywhere in the world and if people break their promises, they won’t be able to move an inch.”
The ‘Social Credit score’ is based on five factors: (1) credit history, (2) fulfillment capacity, (3) personal characteristics (phone, address), (4) behavior and preference (purchases made and associated characteristics with those purchases, and (5) interpersonal relationships (those you associate with).
Only the first two appear directly related to financial ‘credit’ behavior or to ‘keeping promises,’ while the rest look more like a social media profile intended for marketing/information gathering. Unfortunately, this profile is compulsory, one shaped not only by a citizen’s actions, but also by the actions of those with whom he/she associates.
Various ‘credit’ systems are already ‘naturally’ in place in the freer economies, notes Robert – systems that effectively accomplish the same stated end: evaluating credit behavior as a record of one’s ‘kept promises’. However, warns Danielle, this is not just an economic record and profile, but a ‘social value’ profile – one being monitored and enforced by China’s Communist Party.
China’s compulsory credit system appears to be about far more than ensuring ‘people keep their promises.’ When viewed Just Right, China’s ‘social credit system’ looks more like a Political credit system created to ensure its people keep the State’s Promises.