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Globalization and politics

Nuala Gathercole Lam
Freelance Journalist
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piqer: Nuala Gathercole Lam
Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mythbusting China’s Social Credit System

Black Mirror Is Coming True In China, Where Your ‘Rating’ Affects Your Home, Transport And Social Circle

China Ranks Citizens With A Social Credit System — Here’s What You Can Do Wrong And How You Can Be Punished

China Invents The Digital Totalitarian State — Big Data, Meet Big Brother

You may well have come across these headlines or ones like them over the last few years. Major news outlets produce a steady stream of coverage of what is referred to as China’s ‘social credit system’. But, as this episode of Sinica Podcast explains, much of that coverage has been highly misleading:

We in the West have somehow been trapped in this one-dimensional vision of this system or this policy, just looking at it from that angle — politically — and also [with] the idea that it is the state versus the people.

Manya Koetse is founder and editor of What’s On Weibo, a site that reports on social media trends in China. She says this state versus the people view of China’s many and varied social credit systems is not what she sees among Chinese netizens. Manya has put together a great infographic showing the contrasting words used in coverage of social credit in China and abroad.

Sinica’s second guest, Rogier Creemers, is the academic responsible for some of the first translations of policy documents relating to the Chinese Communist Party’s initial plans for a social credit system. Rogier reminds listeners that China is often imagined as highly centralized, but in fact it is common for local governments to implement initiatives like social credit at a provincial level. Successful models are then taken up by Beijing and rolled out nationwide.

Social credit is still in something of a consultative phase in China, and Manya sees a lot of room for discussion of it on the Chinese internet at present. This episode is well worth a listen if you want to get the bare facts on social credit in China and avoid what Rogier calls the “Fu Manchu filter” of the mainstream media.

Mythbusting China’s Social Credit System
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