China's Social Credit System
A closer look on a highly contested topic
Transparent citizens, police state, totalitarian rule: The catchphrases used to describe the Social Credit System (SCS) are oftentimes lurid. China has announced to introduce a rating system by 2020, which measures and expresses the social behaviour of citizens and companies. Is the system the Orwellian nightmare that Western media often depicts it as, or is the story more complicated? Asia Society Switzerland has dedicated an interview series to the topic during summer 2018. We condensed our key take aways to prepare for an event, a live taping of a Sinica Podcast, on October 31.
In the Press
Interview with Manya Koetse, NZZ, Nov 10, 2018
«Chinesen sehen Europa auf dem Weg in den Ruin»
Interview with Kaiser Kuo, NZZ am Sonntag, Nov 11, 2018
«Die USA und China sind beide extrem arrogante Länder»
The Recap of the Live Taping, November 2018
Recap of the Sinica Podcast Live Taping: Kaiser Kuo, Manya Koetse, and Rogier Creemers on China’s Social Credit System
The Condensed Key Take Aways, October 2018
Download the fact sheet here.
The Interview Series, July / August 2018
«I think that anxieties about technology are at the very heart of so many of the tensions now between China and the western countries»
In our first interview, Kaiser Kuo – co-founder of The Sinica Podcast and former director of International Communication for Baidu, China's leading search engine – explained that from his point of view, the western anxiety about the SCS might be overblown and probably stems from a more comprehensive fear of China's technological rise. He further warns of a wrongly perceived entanglement between different parts of the SCS.
«People say that they actually feel safer because you have these SCS that are punishing those in society, companies and individuals, who do wrong.»
The second episode features Manya Koetse – a China social trend watcher and editor-in-chief of What's on Weibo. Focusing on how the SCS impacts the Chinese population, we learn that the system is received very positively by the general population, with many people only seeing the benefits but not the negative sides.
«In China, morality and governance have always been closely connected. The SCS merely adapts this paternalism for the 21st century market economy.»
Rogier Creemers – researcher in the law and governance of China at Leiden University – in our third interview sheds light on the political rationale behind the SCS. He shows how it evolved from a tool to prepare Chinese companies for the market economy to a regime instrument in order to enhance morality within the Chinese population.
«The government aims to be less visible as a regulator, and instead relies on the [social credit] system to incentivize actors to be self-regulating. In that sense, the SCS is an attempt of creating an ‹invisible hand ›.»
In our final interview of the summer series, Mirjam Meissner – Senior Analyst at Sinolytics and former Head of Program Economy and Technology at MERICS – elucidates how both Chinese as well as foreign companies are affected by the SCS. The Chinese leaderships views the system as a stabilizing factor that spurs economic growth.
If you would like to further read on the subject, we can recommend the following papers and articles:
- Rogier Creemers: China's Social Credit System – An Evolving Practice of Control
- Rogier Creemers: China's 'Social Credit System' Isn't What It Sometimes Seems – So Far
- Genia Kostka: China's Social Credit Systems and Public Opinion – Explaining High Levels of Approval
- Manya Koetse: 10 State Media Cartoons on China's Social Credit Implementation
- Marcus Hernig: Errichtet China eine Big-Data-Diktatur? Nein.