"You're Being Controlled All The Time" - An Inside Look At China's "Social Credit Score"

China's introduction of a "social credit score" that will help the Communist Party monitor the loyalty and ensure the obedience of the country's 1.4 billion people has already produced horror stories like ordinary citizens with no criminal history being banned from flying because they were caught jaywalking by the country's network of surveillance cameras.

The score, which will soon be rolled out across China after first being implemented in the cities, aggregates data from a variety of government databases and other sources that have recently been enabled to share information on citizens' activities. The score will help the government determine which citizens will receive access to social services, and which will be turned away.


And in a recent report by CBS New York, television journalists from the US interviewed one man who says his low social credit score is preventing his child from enrolling in a private school, among other majorly disruptive inconveniences. Journalist Liu Hu saw his score downgraded because of his social media posts. When the government demanded that Hu remove the posts and apologize, he immediately complied.

But the government ruled that Liu's apology was insincere, and his low score remained. Now, Liu says, it's his children who are being punished.

"I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school," he said. "You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time."

With the advent of the social credit score, Chinese citizens can face potentially major punishments for small infractions like smoking in a non-smoking area. Likewise, they can see their scores rise for "patriotic" acts like buying Chinese-made goods instead of foreign imports.

The head of a company that builds surveillance equipment for the Chinese government explained to CBS how the country's network of traffic cameras is now being repurposed to enforce its social credit score rules.

The cameras were initially installed to catch criminals. But unsurprisingly, they're now being used to monitor everybody. 

China’s growing network of surveillance cameras makes all of this possible.

"It can recognize more than 4,000 vehicles," Xu Li said.

Li is the CEO of Sensetime, one of China’s most successful artificial intelligence companies. It has created smart cameras for the government that can help catch criminals, but also track average citizens.

"We can tell whether it is an adult, a child, male or female," Li said.

Ken Dewoskin has studied China’s economic and political culture for more than three decades. He says how the new scoring system truly works is kept secret and could be easily abused by the government.

Tracy: "How far into people’s daily mundane activities does this go?"

Dewoskin: "Well, I think that the government and the people running the plan would like it to go as deeply as possible to determine how to allocate benefits and also how to impact and shape their behavior."

China initially imposed the restrictions on plane and rail travel for people with low social scores shortly before President Xi Jinping cemented his status late last year as the effective emperor for life.

A low score, the government says, can impact these and other "privileges" for up to a year. However, there are signs that the government had implemented a rudimentary version of the social credit score years earlier, when a Chinese court revealed that 6.15 million Chinese had been blocked from boarding flights for "social misdeeds."

The social credit score is based on Xi's "once untrustworthy, always restricted," principle, which also entails creating "green lanes" for well-behaved citizens who categorically support the Communist Party. The Party is hoping to have a social credit score assigned to every citizen by 2020.

Everybody else should just forget about traveling to far-flung parts of the world - or even distant parts of China, as it's only a matter of time before the social credit score becomes the most efficient tool of political repression that the world has ever seen.


gregga777 eforce Thu, 04/26/2018 - 19:56 Permalink

I suspect this will only fan the flames of revolution once their ponzi economy fails.

Especially if their system gets monkey-wrenched by an entity with ill intent. By that I mean hacking their system and changing everyone's scores so that those on the bottom exchange places with those on the top. Just think of the ensuing chaos! 

In reply to by eforce

directaction spag Thu, 04/26/2018 - 20:46 Permalink

Throughout history everything China has done has been on the very edge of innovation and excellence. 

China's Social Credit Score is yet another example of their breathtakingly advanced  and future-thinking minds.

The entire world should learn Chinese and adopt this fair and beautiful grading system.

It will make the world a peaceful and happy place for all.  

In reply to by spag

brushhog directaction Thu, 04/26/2018 - 20:51 Permalink

Yeah well lets not forget that the Chinese disposition is so passive in the face of abuse that its hard to fathom. When Mao took over and starved 50 million people, the Chinese just rolled over and died. Now I call modern Americans pussies but you try to starve Americans, starve our children, and the level of rioting will burn the whole country to the ground.

So, bad as things are getting here, I dont think we'll see whats happening in China anytime soon.

In reply to by directaction

Rhetorical brushhog Thu, 04/26/2018 - 21:56 Permalink

I Say we offer asylum to genuine low social score chinese. Would be an easy way to scoop up some of their best most disagreable citizens as far as complaince towards govt is concerned.


Thank you Winney the poo you are ham stringing your country to the U.S.A.s benefit from the perspective of a zero sum.

Personally I don't like to think that way its short sighted but I can if nec

In reply to by brushhog

FoggyWorld brushhog Fri, 04/27/2018 - 00:02 Permalink

What happened in Russia curing its Civil War and then later in China were made relatively easy because the people did not have guns.  That to me is why this unending push to kill off the second Amendment.

And I'm close to being a pacifist but it doesn't worry me one bit that my neighbors don't agree with me.

In reply to by brushhog

uhland62 Beam Me Up Scotty Thu, 04/26/2018 - 22:56 Permalink

The methods are different but the desire to control the population is kind of the same. 

""In 1966, the Australian government agreed, as part of the US alliance, to host the Pine Gap spy base near Alice Springs. Almost certainly, that facility connects Australia to America’s automated drone assassinations, as well as in the NSA’s attempts to gain access to all electronic communications everywhere in the world – two of the more Orwellian schemes underway anywhere in the world.""

From a Guardian article on China/Australia. We know what the Chinese want to do with the surveillance data - but not what the US wants to do with monitoring everyone. And we do not even know how much rent the US pays for Pine Gap!!! Freebie? 

In reply to by Beam Me Up Scotty

roddy6667 Beam Me Up Scotty Thu, 04/26/2018 - 23:26 Permalink

More derogatory remarks from somebody who has never been to China, yet considers himself an expert. 

You are wrong. Since Xi's crackdown on corruption, there have been massive changes, but you wouldn't know anything about that. Before, you could get in an accident with the drunken son of a high-ranking government official and he would stagger around shouting "do you know who my father is?" The police would hush things up and you would be shit out of luck. Now there is a corruption hotline phone number to call for that. The kid's father will tell him to STFU and listen to the police and not make any more trouble. Using political influence like that is corruption and is vigorously prosecuted. Many, many people are sent to prison now and some are executed. Party members, even at the very top, are not exempt. There is a very serious cleanup going on and it makes the average person feel a lot better. Xi knows what he is doing. 

In reply to by Beam Me Up Scotty

risk.averse roddy6667 Fri, 04/27/2018 - 02:32 Permalink

Interesting --albeit disturbing -- opinion. What's Chinese for "Kool-Aid"? Proves that the Chinese love of order trumps any thirst for freedom. Doesn't bode well for the future.

It comforts you, Roddy, that high-up Communist Party officials are also getting prosecuted for corruption? Why would Xi exempt them? If he is ever threatened with being deposed it will be from that class that his successor will come. Xi owes these guys no special favors...they are his biggest competitors. Better to keep them on their toes and nervous.

BTW, most Party officials don't even have to ask for special treatment or favors -- they're bestowed automatically via a nod and a wink. To explicitly ask or demand them is too risky.

I will believe in this system (only partially -- because of its potential for abuse in the future) when Xi's own family are subject to it. Not a chance!

In reply to by roddy6667

roddy6667 risk.averse Fri, 04/27/2018 - 13:04 Permalink

In China and most Asian countries, the smooth and orderly functioning of society is the highest value. It is more important than individual rights or freedoms. This culminated in the teachings of Kong Tze (Confucius), which govern Chinese society today. These values have been a vital part of China for 5000 years. 

You should look in your own back yard and complain about abuse of power and corruption. There is much more in America. 

In reply to by risk.averse

Stuck on Zero gregga777 Thu, 04/26/2018 - 20:02 Permalink

I once was in line to buy tickets to Busch Gardens in Florida. The admission was like $45. Everyone ahead of me in line was getting a discount. When it came to my turn at the teller I said I wanted a discount, too.  The conversation went like this: "Veteran?" No,  "Disabled?" No. "Senior citizen?" No. "Government employee?" No. "Junior?" No. "AAA member?" No.

No social credit points.

The girl looked exasperated. Finally she reached around behind and handed me a discount coupon which I passed back and got 30% off.

In reply to by gregga777

DEMIZEN eforce Thu, 04/26/2018 - 20:54 Permalink

I am not sure what are you saying. shall we ban fico scores? there will be no revolution, there was none in the US when .gov began distributing social goods and privileges based on arbitrary scores.  not that I give a shit, life is not fair, but there are piles of injustice and discrimination dumped at your frontdoor and you worry about fucking China.

In reply to by eforce

rtb61 eforce Thu, 04/26/2018 - 21:14 Permalink

The only problem is, until you learn the rules, how can you game the system. Nothing more than a social computer game. Learn the rules and provide the required inputs and gain the wanted outputs and nothing more.

Of course don't learn the rules, don't game the system and you will suffer and make no mistake. Just properly manage your identities, your social gaming one and your real one.

Are there no websites in China that allow you to learn how to manage and game the system. Can you not hire people to generate the required input for you, you know do that boring grinding, to earn you social media points, you can cash in.

Take this shite to seriously and you will fuck it up. Treat it like a game and play as required, and you will win.

In reply to by eforce

roddy6667 DEMIZEN Thu, 04/26/2018 - 23:36 Permalink

When I was about 55 years old I paid off my bills and went debt-free. I paid cash for everything and saved a lot of money. I used a debit card for plane tickets and car rentals and Internet purchases. I opted out of the credit system because it also the debt system. After 10 years, the wife and I had saved enough money to purchase a house for cash. Again, no credit needed. A couple years ago the car rental companies stopped taking debit cards, so I had to get a credit card. I got an unsolicited offer for one from my bank so I accepted it. Outside of car rentals, there is no need for credit. There must be a few small local companies that still accept debit cards.

In reply to by DEMIZEN

DEMIZEN roddy6667 Fri, 04/27/2018 - 04:11 Permalink

roddy that is not the point. don't give me the Suze Orman blather. I don't have to buy a house I prefer the mobility at my age, however, if I bought a property today in LA I would essentially have to agree to a price bundled with other peoples bad debt. 

You can not live in your own world, things around you affect you. prices are driven by demand and demand is skewed by easy credit and fico scores, not your real worth.

 money management skills don't change these facts. you get to pay your "fair" share of other peoples mess. we are out, we will take a few years off, raise kids in a small town an hr drive from my parents and watch how this mess plays out. if things get better here I can always come back. we saved plenty. I do things your way but doing so comes at the ever-increasing costs. sadly this is not 70s anymore.


In reply to by roddy6667

FoggyWorld DEMIZEN Fri, 04/27/2018 - 00:12 Permalink

You are wrong based on my experience.   I use a debit card or cash and that's it.  Checks very, very rarely.  And soon I will ask to be removed from the 3 credit tracking systems.  Have been doing this for about 8 years and haven't run into anything I can't buy including airline tickets and a new car.

In reply to by DEMIZEN

Sorry_about_Dresden Toxicosis Thu, 04/26/2018 - 22:57 Permalink

Airlines only take credit cards.........low credit score? No credit card for you! No flight for you! You don’t think tsa in pinging c scores? Think again, c scores were created w/ nifty icbm Atlas missile tech.......Look up TRW. Sheeple have no clue how credit score evolved, it was developed during cold war by TRW......who were working w/ NAZI von Braun......creating Atlas ICBM, TRW merged, shapeshifted, into credit bureau, neato!

In reply to by Toxicosis

DEMIZEN HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Thu, 04/26/2018 - 21:12 Permalink

but your financial activity depends on your professional licenses, education titles, equal opportunity jobs, social participation etc...


In a society that has a fixed monetary supply, peoples worth is defined by the amount of money that members of the society are willing to hand over to them.

in a debt driven society, peoples worth is decided by an algorithm

In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0

Yen Cross Thu, 04/26/2018 - 19:29 Permalink

  Just wait until stagflation sweeps through China.

  Chinese and Euro Area Macro is deteriorating, and already coming to the U.S.

  The Japanese $usd buying isn't going to help anyone. Time to start shorting usd/chf, eur/jpy again.

NoPension Thu, 04/26/2018 - 19:36 Permalink

Hoping these demented fucks crash and burn. 

And you just KNOW the party elite are exempt, as always...everywhere. Including here. ( wherever your here is)