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China’s Role in the Global Social Credit System

Some strongly argue that to criticise China’s government is simply to engage in anti-China propaganda. They call such criticisms “disinformation” or even evidence of outright Sinophobia.

If you ever point out what an appalling concept China’s Social Credit System is, you may be accused of supporting NATO, of promoting “the international rules based system,” of peddling Sinophobic “hate speech” or similar nonsense. These arguments are no more cogent than an allegation that your expressed distaste for Coke logically implies that you avidly promote Pepsi. The term for such rebuttals is “fallacious non sequitur.”

Yet perhaps we can understand how these suspicions arise. Many Western politicians illegitimately paint China’s government as some sort of threat to so-called “representative democracy.” Not because it is, but because levelling that charge suits their domestic or foreign policy objectives.

Meanwhile, these politicians represent allegedly democratic governments that completely ignore all of the democratic ideals they disingenuously claim to value. But the rank hypocrisy of Western “leaders” does not therefore signify that China’s government is beyond criticism. In other words, it is possible to dislike both Coke and Pepsi.

For example, speaking in 2018, then-US Vice President Mike Pence made the following remarks in an address he gave at the hawkish Hudson Institute:

China’s rulers aim to implement an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life — the so-called “Social Credit Score.” In the words of that program’s official blueprint, it will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven, while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

Amid accusations of Chinese militarisation, in which Pence blamed China for near-misses in the South China Sea but never ventured to explain why the US government believes it has the right to patrol that same sea, his comment on China’s Social Credit Score was not entirely without merit. Yet his rhetoric was in the same breath sanctimonious disinformation.

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Trump_on_China_-Putting_America_First(November_2,2020),_page_16(cropped).png

It is true, as Pence said, that China’s Social Credit System (SCS) is an “Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life.” Pence’s hypocrisy, though, lay in the fact that nearly every other country in the world—especially the US and its Western allies—has long been trying to impose exactly the same social credit control system.

Blaming China’s government for doing that of which the US is itself guilty is the most base form of state propaganda. Using the tried-and-true tactic of disinformation by omission, Pence duped the American people into believing that only the government of China favours such oppression. In so doing, he hid the very real danger Americans face from their own government.

China’s Social Credit System Confusion

There is certainly a lot of confusion about China’s SCS. With Western governments seeking to both implement the same system and cast China as the enemy, some pro-state journalists and academics in the West have fallen into line defending the SCS while others have done the opposite, berating China’s government for its SCS.

In a 2019 article, How the West Got China’s Social Credit System Wrong, Louise Matsakis wrote:

[T]here is no single, all-powerful score assigned to every individual in China, at least not yet. The “official blueprint” Pence referenced is a planning document released by China’s chief administrative body five years ago. It calls for the establishment of a nationwide scheme for tracking the trustworthiness of everyday citizens, corporations, and government officials. [. . .] While a number of journalists and academics have tried to correct the record, the science fiction myths about China’s social credit score continue to endure in the West.

Matsakis is a widely published journalist whose main gig is technology and China correspondent for Semafor. Consequently, we should treat her claim about “science fiction myths” with some caution.

Semafor was set up by former New York Times media columnist Ben Smith and former Bloomberg Media Group CEO Justin B. Smith (no relation to Ben). The story goes that the pair first came up with the idea of an “independent” online news outlet when they just happened to bump into each other at the World Economic Forum (WEF) symposium in Davos, Switzerland, in 2018.

Image: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/18/semafor-debuts-new-media-startup.html

Launched with much fanfare, Semafor was supported from the outset by legacy media (LM). At the time, Poynter, the overseeing body for the global fact-checking industry, wrote:

The Smiths [. . .] announced their intentions way back in January and have spent the past 10 months hiring more than 50 staffers and raising $25 million. On Tuesday, it launched and, honestly, it looks pretty cool[.] [. . .] [H]ere’s hoping Semafor is a success. More journalism, particularly from many of the talented people who are at Semafor [Matsakis for example], should be a good thing.

Clearly, the global fact-checking industry and the wider LM are behind Semafor’s ambition to “deliver common facts to divergent audiences” and to restore “global trust in the media.” Semafor promises the public that it can “make sense of a complex world with a news source [they] can trust.”

Raising $25M in ten months for a news website start-up is impressive. The generous financial support of people like the Brazilian multibillionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann and American Samuel Benjamin Bankman-Fried (SBF)—who must both care deeply about accurate journalism you can trust—undoubtedly helped.

Global corporations, such as Mastercard and Pfizer, are apparently equally committed to trustworthy journalism, for they, too, donated generously to the Semafor cause and are among its partners. Semafor reportedly generates about 30% of its revenue from the forums and events it convenes with the support of other global corporations, such as AstraZeneca.

Semafor also maintains partnership “initiatives” with globalist think tanks such as the China Center For Globalisation (CCG). The CCG provides policy guidance to the Chinese government. It is partly funded by Chinese multinational corporations and is a “partner” of the United Nations (UN).

The UN has given the CCG “official special consultative status” on the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ECOSOC’s role is “to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental.”

Like Semafor, the CCG stresses that it is “independent” and that, apart from “advising” what policies China’s government should adopt, it has nothing to do with the Chinese government. The CCG adds that it is supported—i.e., funded—by the Dongwoo Globalization Think Tank Foundation.

The Dongwoo Foundation is “approved by [China’s] Ministry of Civil Affairs and enjoys tax exemptions and concessions for individual and corporate donors.” The foundation thus enables China’s billionaires to avoid paying any tax on their efforts to “advise” the Chinese government’s policy decisions and to assist Semafors “trusted” and “independent” “global journalism.”

Actually, we might question just how “independent” Matsakis’ journalism is. Her article makes some good points, but the overall impression given—that the SCS is a shambolic paper-shuffling exercise that has little impact on people’s everyday lives—accords with the criticisms often made of those who point out that this “little impact” impression is wrong.

Do the philanthropists, global think tanks, and corporations that back Semafor journalists’ “trusted” news reporting, also wish to downplay the purpose and effectiveness of China’s SCS? For the reasons we are about to discuss, it seems feasible, at least, to think so.

Certainly, it is easy to debunk the frequently made claim that there is a “single, all-powerful score assigned to every individual in China.” Rather, it would be more accurate to say that there are different scores and ratings applied by different bodies, both public and private.

This issue of “the score” is another sticking point for those who claim the SCS has nothing to do with digital enslavement. Indeed, it is something of a red-herring. However, the 2014 planning document—more on this shortly—describes, among an enormous list of objectives, one of the aims of the SCS:

Comprehensively advancing the establishment of a social credit system is an effective method of strengthening societal creditworthiness, promoting mutual trust in society, and reducing social contradictions, and it is an urgent requirement for strengthening and innovating in social governance.

Clearly, there has to be some method to rate the “societal creditworthiness” of government officials, businesses and individual citizens, right? After all, if the goal is to promote “trust” and strengthen “social governance,” then a score of some sort—or at least something to signify a rating—is surely required. To claim otherwise is irrational.

Image: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Organizational-and-Process-Chart-of-Chinas-Social-Credit-System-SCS-Sources-Planning_fig2_326817957

Taken as a whole, the current SCS is certainly a fragmented system. Considering it is based upon an ambiguous and impenetrable legal framework, this isn’t surprising.

In a country as large and as complex as China, there is inevitably a disjointed application of the perceived “rules” by Chinese provinces, by officials and by the Chinese public-private partnership tasked with administering the SCS. Thus far, as a centralised control system, it has been hit-and-miss. Unfortunately, though, improved technology is bringing it together.

In 2018 German researchers conducted a nationwide online SCS opinion survey in China. They reached out to 350,000 Chinese people, and of those, 224,000 (64%) responded. If we extrapolate these numbers for China’s estimated 2018 population of 1.3 billion people, the responses conservatively suggest that at least 600 million were aware of the SCS in 2018.

The German research revealed that a majority, of those surveyed, who were all computer users and, broadly, wealthier and older than the average Chinese citizen, looked favourably upon the SCS. Many survey respondents viewed the SCS a useful tool for encouraging good behaviour and rooting out corruption. It is not uncommon for people in China and other countries, such as the UK, to trust their government and to consider obedience a virtue.

Image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cGB8dCDf3c

This largely explains why, during the pseudopandemic, the vast majority of people voluntarily accepted unscientific lockdown restrictions, wore masks as instructed and took the experimental drugs they were told to take. People across the world passively allowed their rights to be replaced with life limiting technological, medical and procedural restrictions.

“The #pandemic…was intended to force you to get the vaccine. The #vaccine…to force you to get the #VaccinePassport. The passport…to force you to get the #SocialCreditScore….to force you to obey the government forever.” @StevenWMosher

Interview: https://t.co/NXNa2vhbDp pic.twitter.com/srQ1uWuaQE

— Geopolitics & Empire (@Geopolitics_Emp) April 16, 2022

In China, so-called “crisis” saw the widespread use of QR code traffic light systems used to control peoples freedom of movement and their access to goods and services. Citizens’ attitudes toward their own servitude, in China and elsewhere, are shaped by a range of social, political and cultural influences.

The same German study also found:

Only 19% of respondents perceive the SCS in value neutral terms (neither disapprove nor approve) while just 1% reported either strong or somewhat disapproval.

This suggests—using the same conservative yardstick of the 2018 population in China—hat around 114 million people questioned the SCS and a small minority of some 6 million were outright opposed to it.

Some who deny the purpose of the SCS—specifically its impact on the Chinese public—go so far as to allege that the Chinese people have never heard of the SCS. That could partly be true. China is a massive country, and the rollout of what we will call “the personal SCS” hasn’t reached everyone yet. So some Chinese people may not be familiar with it.

That said, those who seriously contend that no one in China even knows that the SCS exists appear to be basing their opinion on anecdotes and YouTube videos rather than on empirical evidence.

It is fair to say that many who criticise the global SCS do not unquestioningly believe or perhaps even accept authority. In China, opposition to the SCS largely comes from dissidents and those who have suffered its iniquities.

As more people fall foul of the SCS perhaps attitudes towards it will change. Both in China and other countries that are installing essentially the same system.

The fundamental error that many Western critics of the SCS make is to allege that it exists only in China. This is not true. The SCS is a global initiative. A system of social punishment and reward, just like China’s SCS, is already being implemented in many countries around the world.

The Global Social Credit System

Nearly all Western-aligned governments that accuse China’s of installing an “Orwellian” population control system are constructing precisely the same surveillance state in their own countries. Their disinformation by omission extends across the Western world.

In March 2023, the president of the European Union (EU) Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, accused China’s government of moving into “a new era of security and control,” where “security and economy take prominence over political and civil rights.” Meanwhile the EU Commission she leads was busy rolling out digital identity (digital ID), a cornerstone of the global digital prison.

Image: https://www.worldbank.org/en/events/2022/02/20/get-to-know-in-the-eu-an-id4d-webinar-series

Von der Leyen called this “a secure European e-identity [e-ID],” adding that an EU “citizen can use [e-ID] anywhere in Europe to do anything from paying your taxes to renting a bicycle.” What the Commission president didn’t mention was that eventually EU citizens won’t be able “to do anything”—from paying taxes to renting a bicycle—without their approved e-ID.

The “global digital prison” may sound like hyperbole, but, in fact, prison is an apt description. According to former Silicon Valley visual computing engineer and entrepreneur Aman Jabbi, the nature of the digital prison can be defined in terms of its basic technological infrastructure:

At the heart of implementing this prison is your identity, and your identity comes from your unique facial features [. . .] through facial recognition. Your face and your biometrics in general are [mapped] to your unique identity, which is your digital identity. [. . .] Once you have a digital ID and your activities [. . .] are linked to digital ID, that can be controlled by virtue of a digital currency. [. . .] That digital currency will have multiple components, and they’ll map, again, to your digital ID. [. . .] It will have social credit scores. [The SCS is] already here [in the US;] it’s just that we haven’t been given an app telling us our social credit scores. We are being scored now, in real time. [. . .] Whatever we consume through our credit cards, through airline tickets, our shopping, whatever, it’s all being tracked, and there’s a carbon score being put against you. [. . .] The carbon footprint will also be mapped to your central banks digital currency [programmable CBDC], potentially your medical status and your jab status, etc. So, your digital currency linked to your digital ID is a currency of control, a currency of compliance. [. . .] This digital prison is really about conditional access. [. . .] Everywhere you need access, there will be 3D cameras looking at your face. Doors won’t open, your car won’t start [. . .], you may not be able to get out of your apartment by virtue of a smart lock with a camera. Think of it, not that you are inside a cell [. . .] but that everything is inside a cell that you need to access [. . .] including communication with your loved ones and accessing the internet. That’s the digital prison.

Jabbi went on to describe how all the data—so-called “Big Data”—-harvested from your digital ID interaction with ID registering devices, including those forming part of the Internet of Things (IoT), will be scanned and analysed by AI systems before being stored. Some form of distributed ledger technology (DLT)—almost certainly a permissioned blockchain—will be used, and only a few select commercial “partners” will have access to it.

Those who are “licensed” to use the data will have immense power to monitor and control every aspect of our lives. If we adopt programmable digital currency, our ability to purchase the goods and services we need can and almost certainly will be permitted or denied on a case-by-case, individual basis.

“Imagine giving $50 to support this convoy & the next day you can’t withdraw money. That’s what we’re going to see with the Biomedical Security State. Next steps are Digital IDs & CBDCs. There’s going to be a push to phase out cash.” @akheriaty

Interview: https://t.co/Lboipm6CEv pic.twitter.com/NBhpr2HgXa

— Geopolitics & Empire (@Geopolitics_Emp) November 3, 2022

This digital infrastructure described by Aman Jabbi is being installed under the so-called “leadership” of people like Ursula von der Leyen. Speaking at the 2023 G20 summit in New Delhi, she said:

One thing seems clear: the future will be digital. Today I want to focus on AI and digital infrastructure. [. . .] We want to facilitate innovation while building trust. [. . .] I believe that Europe — and its partners — should develop a new global framework for AI risks. [. . .] At global level we eventually need to reach the broader community of the United Nations. We would need a similar [AI] body to the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]. [. . .] Second, on Digital Public Infrastructures. [. . .] The trick is to build public digital infrastructure that is interoperable, open to all and trusted. Let me give you one example that is reality today. Many of you are familiar with the COVID-19 digital certificate. The EU developed it for itself. The model was so functional and so trusted that 51 countries on four continents adopted it for free. Today, the WHO uses it as a global standard to facilitate mobility in times of health threats.

Aman Jabbi’s suspicions that your carbon footprints, health records and jab status will also be attached to your digital ID and that your behaviour will be controlled through your digital currency wallet are well-founded. It would be monumentally foolish to overlook the clear possibility that your digital money could be blocked from purchasing, for example, a train ticket, if your digital ID shows that you haven’t taken the required jabs.

With the planned introduction of the UK CBDC—the digital pound—the Bank of England (BoE) has given the power to program digital currency to its private commercial bank and payment service provider “partners.” These BoE partners will be licensed to access the “core ledger,” where all of the immensely valuable transaction data will be stored—providing, that is, that they programme their digital monetary products and services to deliver “the Government and Bank’s [the BoE] policy objectives.”

Ultimately this will enable policy enforcement, not through legislation, but by the mutual agreement of the public-private partnership controlling the social credit system in the UK. The effect will be to render government a mere policy-setting “partner” and to eventually remove any notion of democratic oversight.

Claiming that democratic values are an “essential part of who I am and what I believe in,” Ursula von der Leyen is apparently leading the EU’s charge to do away with democratic values completely. If not, then why install a system designed for that purpose?

Enabling a likely global digital prison is the direction that governments in all developed and emerging economies are heading. China is no exception.

China’s Personal Social Credit System

The Chinese government developed the SCS specifically to socially engineer society and centrally plan the economy. Published in 2014, the State Council Notice for planning a Social Credit System (SCS) outlined the Chinese government’s rationale for its SCS:

The social credit system is an important component of the Socialist market economy system and the social governance system; [. . .] its foundation is a complete network covering the credit records of all members of society and the credit infrastructure; [. . .] its reward and punishment mechanisms are incentivizing trustworthiness and restricting untrustworthiness. [. . .] The establishment of a social credit system is an important foundation for comprehensively implementing the scientific viewpoint of development. [. . .] Accelerating and advancing the establishment of the social credit system is an important precondition for promoting the optimized allocation of resources.

An overarching government legislative system for “implementing the scientific viewpoint of development” that incorporates “reward and punishment mechanisms” and that incentivizes “trustworthiness” by controlling the “allocation of resources” is the epitome of technocracy. The 2014 notice provides the legal basis for the establishment of a Technate in China.

China’s SCS is also concerned with the behaviour of individual citizens. We can differentiate between the corporate SCS and the personal SCS, but both aim to incentivize adherence to government policy and regulations and to punish those who do not comply.

Again, from the 2014 planning document:

Encourage enterprises to broaden sales on credit, promote spending by individuals on credit [. . .]; put untrustworthy individuals on a credit blacklist [. . .]; establish systems for network credit blacklists, include enterprises and individuals that engage in online fraud, rumor-mongering, [. . .] and other seriously untrustworthy network conduct in black lists; and employ measures such as restricting online conduct and barring access to industries against those entered on the black lists, and report them to relevant departments for disclosure and exposure. [. . .] Follow provisions to give commendations to creditworthy enterprises and model individuals, and use news media to broadly publicize them, creating a public opinion environment in which trustworthiness is honored and untrustworthiness is shameful.

The personal SCS promotes consumption by encouraging the use of commercial “credit” but also punishes failure to repay—punishes in more than just the financial or legal sense. Public shaming and restricted access to other goods and services, both public and private, are also potential consequences of SCS “blacklisting.”

China’s personal SCS is being constructed using the technological infrastructure outlined by Aman Jabbi. At the same time, though, the 2014 Social Credit System “plan” is not technology-specific. Or, put another way, it is not exclusively technological.

This fact provides one basis for the arguments offered by those who defend or even deny the nature of the SCS. They are eager to point out that the SCS is just a complex administrative system. Their essential contention is that the various technological restrictions placed upon Chinese people and businesses have nothing to do with the SCS.

For example, in 2021, the German think tank, the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), made the claim that:

The private tech sector continues to be excluded from the development of the official Social Credit System. But payment and consumer platforms like Alibaba’s Sesame Credit have created their own trust-rating initiatives.

In saying that, however, MERICS ignored that facets of the complex system are being practically enforced through technological means. Especially through the use of shared data. Sesame Credit created its own “trust-ratings,” but it was very much part of the personal SCS system and was fully approved by the Chinese government—or, rather, by China’s central bank.

Image: https://merics.org/en/report/chinas-social-credit-system-2021-fragmentation-towards-integration#_blank

Though the 2014 SCS “plan” did not stipulate the use of commercial credit service providers for implementing the “official” personal SCS, the 2016 State Council guidance on Accelerating the Establishment of the Social Credit System did:

Through the disclosure and sharing of credit information, establish cross-region, interdepartmental, and cross-sector mechanisms for joint incentives and joint disciplinary action, forming a common governance structure in which government departments coordinate their concerted action, [. . .] credit service organizations actively participate, and there is broad supervision by public sentiment. [. . .] Complete mechanisms for information sharing between government and credit institutions, financial institutions [. . .] and other such organizations, advancing the interaction and merging of government affairs credit information and social credit information, bringing into play the functions of joint incentives for trustworthiness and joint disciplinary action for untrustworthiness to the greatest extent possible.

The intention for “disciplinary action” to be felt to “the greatest extent possible” requires partnerships between China’s government and the private credit and financial institutions and other organisations such as “credit service organizations.”

Indeed, the SCS, like all digital prison programs, operates as a public-private partnership.

This explains why China’s central bank—the People’s Bank of China (PBOC)—previously entered into a public-private partnership with eight Chinese financial technology (fintech) and social media corporations. One such partner was, not surprisingly, Sesame Credit. As the Chinese government’s SCS “plan” was hardly specific, it wasn’t long before some of the companies’ personal SCS marketing tactics riled the government.

Of Sesame Credit, Caixin—the media organisation whose private holding company, Caixin Global, later “partnered” with China’s state-owned investment bank (CITIC)—reported in 2015:

Sesame Credit Management Co., a subsidiary of Alibaba-linked Ant Financial Services Group, was one of the eight companies the central bank chose this year to run individual credit scoring services that had been provided only by the government. It provides users of Alipay, the country’s most popular online payment service, a score ranging from 350 to 950 based on data collected from Alibaba’s shopping websites as well as banks and other companies that agree to share information with Sesame Credit. The higher the score, the more trustworthy a person is considered.

Building upon its personal SCS role, in 2017 Alipay launched its facial recognition payment system in China. Alipay said of its “Smile to Pay”:

For payment authorization, consumers simply look at the kiosk and a 3D camera will confirm their identity.

As we have already discussed, China has not been alone in rolling out this technology. Two years ago, consumers could already use the same facial recognition technology, linked to their digital ID, to make payments in the US, Denmark, Nigeria and elsewhere. The US has fully trialled its CBDC, and Nigeria has introduced the eNaira. Only Denmark is seemingly reluctant to adopt CBDC.

Combined with China’s CBDC (e-CNY) and its planned national digital ID, the social engineering possibilities offered by a system like Alipay’s “Smile to Pay” are limitless.

The Chinese courts partner with tech giants like Sesame Credit. Chinese government data, gathered from the courts and elsewhere, has been combined with private data, which is gathered from private “partner” social media and FinTech companies, for the purpose of lowering the financial credit score of millions of Chinese citizens who have been “blacklisted.”

The concept of Joint Disciplinary Action is the key to how the SCS operates in China. In this regard, it differs slightly from the digital prison model being installed in other countries, but only to the extent that the imminent digital prison in China is backed by a single legislative framework.

In other countries, among them the UK, distinct legislation, such as the UK government’s proposed Online Safety Act and imminent digital ID legislation, are separate but are combined to create a single SCS. The net legal “framework” effect is essentially identical to China’s SCS.

Describing how Joint Disciplinary Action operates in China, the very useful China Law Translates, noted:

The idea is that when someone is labelled as ’untrustworthy’ in one field, they will face hurdles in every aspect of their lives. This is realized by attempting to link all of a persons [. . .] conduct to their individual social credit number (ID number [. . .]), so that it can be easily shared between government departments on a national credit information platform. The diverse departments and agencies then coordinate joint-discipline by making agreements to all take action against the ’untrustworthy’ individuals identified by the other departments.

People considered “untrustworthy” are primarily those who have defaulted on debt repayments or who refused to pay court fines. But civil authorities also blacklist individuals for numerous subjective reasons. For example, the Central Civilisation Commission noted that people could be blacklisted from air travel for “uncivilised behaviour” that causes “serious negative impact on society.”

The personal SCS removes access to “privileges” from people who have broken the law—and also from those who haven’t. The SCS sets up a blacklist for those deemed to have committed “misdeeds.” So to claim, as some do, that the personal SCS doesn’t impact upon the lives of ordinary people is ridiculous.

Public humiliation and shaming are used to change the behaviour both of those who have been blacklisted and, via the imparted warning, everyone else. The Supreme Court maintains a database of the “discredited individuals” (laolai). Tech companies like TikTok publish laolai lists from the publicly available data to inform its users which companies and individuals have been “discredited.”

Technology enhances the personal SCS. To register a SIM cards or new SMART phones, Chinese users must by law use facial recognition technology. This biometric data then informs China’s already extensive and rapidly expanding national network of facial recognition cameras.

China’s internet is highly regulated via the Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services. The government prohibits news bloggers from commenting on any policies or political developments without first obtaining a license from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

The online censorship system operates as a public-private partnership. There are eight licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in China. They are registered with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). But censorship largely occurs through the state’s partnership with fintech companies and social media platforms. The censorship is overseen by China’s Internet Information Office.

The Chinese have to register their personal details to use the popular social media platforms. The independent sale of SIM cards and network adapters is prohibited; the cards and adapters require similar registration upon purchase and prior to use.

Beyond a prohibition on inciting crimes or advocating violence or terrorism, Article 12 of China’s Cybersecurity Law also outlines other types of information that Chinese people are not permitted to publish or share:

[Users] must not use the Internet to engage in activities endangering national security, national honour, and national interests; they must not incite subversion of national sovereignty, overturn the socialist system, incite separatism, break national unity, [. . .] create or disseminate false information to disrupt the economic or social order, or information that infringes on the reputation, privacy, intellectual property or other lawful rights and interests of others, and other such acts.

In other words, no one in China is permitted to question the state online. This doesn’t stop some activists from doing so, but they know it is risky business and the punishment if they are caught is steep. Political dissidents can certainly expect to be censored by the social media platforms, and prison sentences are a distinct possibility for those who speak out too strongly.

The situation will soon be no different in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or any other NATO/G7-leaning country. For example, the UK is very close to enacting the Online Safety Act, which will mean no one in the UK will be able to question the state—or at least they won’t be able to do so using social media or the internet. They can post whatever they like, but the message will effectively be banned so no one will see it.

Not only does the UK propose “re-imagining” every UK citizen’s rights and rolling out digital ID, it has a raft of legislation—either pending or already passed—that, when totted up, effectively establishes a UK dictatorship. For example, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act gives the UK government, its agencies and agents the power to commit any crime they like while enjoying immunity from prosecution.

The emergent UK dictatorship intends to install an SCS in all but name. So-called smart meters are supposedly essential to monitor the energy usage data transmitted from IoT devices in the home. (These meters, in turn, collectively form the domestic infrastructure of the smart grid.) Smart meters enable all of a citizen’s domestic energy usage and the digital ID of the device used to be surveilled and controlled in real time.

Section 247(2)(d) of the UK government’s proposed Energy Bill, states:

Energy smart regulations may include provision to ensure compliance with any prohibition or requirement imposed by or under the regulations, including provision-conferring powers of entry, including by reasonable force.

The UK government claims that using “reasonable force” to install smart meters, whether alleged “homeowners” want one or not, is necessary because it will save the consumer money and enable “the cost-effective delivery of net zero greenhouse gas emissions.” The promised savings is pure disinformation, but the point is this: the goal of achieving sustainable development “net zero” is as much a part of the UK’s SCS plans as it is part of China’s.

The UK’s proposed energy legislation makes it clear what smart meters are really for:

“Energy smart appliance” means an appliance which is capable of adjusting the immediate or future flow of electricity into or out of itself or another appliance in response to a load control signal.

Once payment is linked to your UK digital ID and your UK digital pound wallet, every aspect of your daily life can be monitored and controlled by the UK state and its “partners.” If you exceed your state-allocated carbon footprint, your energy usage can be throttled and your devices disabled through your smart meter.

At the same time, payment for any energy you use can be deducted at source, automatically, in real time, thanks to your programmable digital currency. As highlighted by the European Data Protection Supervisor:

Programmable payments enable automatic transfers of money when pre-determined conditions are met. For example, a person [or the state or one of its commercial partners] can instruct their bank account to send [or take] a certain amount of money at the end of every month [or whenever] to another account [such as your account with an energy company or your tax account with the government]. In a machine-to-machine payment scenario, payments can be automated and money can be sent when a parcel is checked as delivered at a certain store room [or when your smart meter notices that your washing machine is running a hot cycle]. At the same time, CBDC could be used as payments programmed as automatic transfers by a State actor (e.g., for welfare payments) [or for tax deductions, or to restrict welfare payments if you do not comply with policy].

[Comments in brackets have been added by the author.]

China is a global leader in digital ID, CBDC and smart grid technology. It also has an overarching legal framework, called the Social Credit System, which focuses on “incentivizing trustworthiness and restricting untrustworthiness” through “the optimized allocation of resources.”

Perhaps some imagine that China’s government has no intention of using its smart grid, digital ID and CBDC in the same manner that the UK government apparently intends to use its digital control mechanisms. That China’s government is further advanced on rolling out the control grid—which is identical to the control grids currently under construction in nearly every other developed and emerging economy in the world—doesn’t mean it has a nefarious agenda in mind.

This is certainly the opinion of the Western commentators who take a “nothing to see here” stance in relation to China’s SCS.

However, the comments apparently made by Lin Jinyue, one of the original developers of the SCS, might give the rest of us reason for scepticism.

What Lin Jinyue said–—which we will quote momentarily—appears to suggest that China’s government does indeed have a social engineering and population control agenda. This might explain why China’s government has published a plan to socially engineer Chinese society and control its population through a system of reward and punishment.

In a 2021 interview with the French ARTE channel, Lin Jinyue said [assuming we can trust the translation]:

I think that we have put in place a good technological method. I really hope that we will manage to export it to a capitalist country. [. . .] If you [France] had the social credit system, there never could have been the yellow vests [gilets jaunes]. We would have detected that before they acted, one could have foreseen [indecipherable] these events would not have happened. It is one of the great advantages [of] the social credit system.

Whatever you may think about the Gilet Jaunes (Yellow Vests), it did appear to be, and remains, a genuine grassroots movement formed by concerned citizens who had legitimate political grievances. Mr. Lin’s view that the SCS was designed to stop such movements from forming in the first place does seem to support everything we have discussed about China’s SCS so far.

However, Mr. Lin’s confidence in his SCS design may have been overstated. When anti-lockdown protests occurred across China in November 2022, China’s authorities were seemingly caught off guard.

It is notable that the initial state response was, in part, concerned with the use of technology. Chinese police reportedly checked protesters phones for evidence that activists weren’t using banned technology or accessing outlawed websites. Perhaps they were trying to ascertain why the personal SCS had failed in this instance.

China’s Corporate Social Credit System

In March of this year, the Chinese government announced further additions to what we’ll call its corporate SCS. It promised to define “honest consumption” and to “improve the credit system for ecological and environmental protection.” The latter goal, if implemented, will force the Chinese people and businesses to meet the Chinese government’s commitment to sustainable development.

Governments in every developed economy are pursuing practically the same model of technocracy. For example, the UK government has a “partnership” with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to design UK market regulations. The intention is to create “an environment which fosters and supports entrepreneurship and the innovative industries of the future.”

In turn, the WEF has a “strategic partnership” with the United Nations (UN) to “accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” China’s Center for Globalisation (the CCG), along with the WEF and the UN, back global ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) asset ratings. These are intended to ensure that investors bankroll only projects that are deemed by the UN and its partners—such as the WEF and the CCG—to comply with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In other words, through a global public-private partnership, the private corporate members of the WEF, and by extension the “thought leaders” in the CCG, will shape UK regulatory policy for innovative industrial regulation. Furthermore, through the WEF’s and the CCG’s “partnerships” with the UN, the necessary investment needed to launch the so-called innovations will ensure UK industrial development is effectively controlled by UN-administered SDGs.

Consequently, the UK government has announced that it is mandatory for approximately 1,300 of the UK’s largest companies to submit their climate-related financial disclosures. The plan is to extend this requirement to all businesses by 2025. The UK government has produced a roadmap toward mandatory climate-related disclosures:

The Roadmap presents a coordinated strategy. [. . .] A coordinated approach across the economy will help to ensure that the right information on climate-related risks and opportunities is available across the investment chain.

The British people haven’t been asked to cast a vote for central economic planning, but that’s what they’ve got—although, admittedly, it is not planned “by” the government they thought they had elected.

Sustainable finance does indeed adopt a “coordinated approach.” But the coordination is not led by the UK Cabinet Office. Instead, it is “coordinated” through a partnership working with Davos delegates, thinks tanks, intergovernmental organisations, and global financial institutions.

The UK government alleges that it protects the UK’s democratic society. Meanwhile, it accuses China’s government of being authoritarian. The only apparent difference between the populace of each country is that the Chinese recognise that their government is authoritarian while the British are duped into wrongly believing theirs isn’t.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is tasked with formulating and implementing “strategies on national economic and social development.” Among its objectives: to coordinate “sustainable development strategies.”

These strategies focus on “energy and resource conservation” with a view toward enforcing “energy consumption control targets.” This will enable the NDRC to deliver “sustainable development of population and economy, society, resources, and the environment.”

The WEF signed its strategic memorandum of understanding with the NDRC in 2017. President Xi agreed that the Chinese government and the WEF should “strengthen ongoing communication and consultation on a range of topics and activities that are critical for China and global sustainable development in the foreseeable future.” Presumably this is part of the reason why Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman, thinks that China is a “role model for many countries.”

Image: https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202306/27/WS649a75bda310bf8a75d6be10.html

In precisely the same manner as the UK government, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) issued the Measures for the Administration of Legal Disclosure of Enterprise Environmental Information in 2021. The purpose was to mandate ESG reporting for Chinese companies.

As reported by China Briefing, the hope was that this would:

[. . .] further strengthen China’s corporate social credit system and offer another tool for the government to hold market entities accountable for violations of environmental laws and standards.

As noted in the 2014 planning of the Social Credit System, this enforcement of ESG ratings is an important foundation for “comprehensively implementing the scientific viewpoint of development.” It establishes one of the key control mechanisms of technocracy: namely, the “optimized allocation of resources.”

Like the UK government’s ESG mandates, the Chinese government’s ESG asset rating system was not the result of a policy decision taken in the Great Hall of the People. Rather, the decision-making happened in the policy think tanks of the global public-private partnership (G3P). President Xi and his UK counterpart, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, simply rubber stamped the same G3P policy agenda.

Equally, the UK’s commitment to SDG finance is as much a part of its corporate SCS as the Chinese government’s “credit system for ecological and environmental protection” is part of its corporate SCS. The difference is: While the Chinese government acknowledges that any improvements it makes to its corporate SCS will enforce SDG compliance, the UK government pretends that it doesn’t have a corporate SCS. It maintains this fiction because it hopes to convince the British that they live in a “democracy”—though that clearly isn’t the case.

It is beyond obvious that you cannot have the same policies emerging at the same time in most countries around the world—especially in countries that are supposedly opposed to each other and are often described as “enemies”—without there having been significant global policy coordination. Yet you will hear plenty of arguments denying this reality from those who want you to believe that China, at least, somehow opposes the G3P global governance regime. If that’s true, it seemingly “opposes” the regime by fastidiously implementing all of its policy initiatives.

While the common perception of China’s “top down” governmental control is often touted in the Western Legacy Media as an impediment to business, the introduction of measures such as sustainable finance and ESG ratings into China’s business environment suggests that it isn’t China’s government alone that is operating these “controls.”

Indeed, China’s corporate SCS relates to the conduct of businesses and investors. The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is developing “one national network”—effectively a database—that collects and analyses “the Big Data” extracted from all businesses operating in China. The National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System (NECIPS) and creditchina[.]com.cn (CREDITCHINA) then reveal which business or corporate representative has been “blacklisted.”

This notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR)—a variation of which is called stakeholder capitalism—is nothing new in China. Article 5 of the 2006 Chinese Company Law requires all companies in the country to “bear social responsibilities.”

But in China, just as in every other developed and emerging economy, the majority of those corporate social responsibilities are not determined by the government. The government’s role, it would seem, is to enforce the judgments of others, using China’s model of the corporate SCS.

The post China’s Role in the Global Social Credit System first appeared on Geopolitics & Empire.

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