China's Social Credit System

A closer look on a highly contested topic

Soliders Patrol

2019 Update

A year after our big series on China's Social Credit System we have reached out to our experts again and asked social trend watcher Manya Koetse and China law scholar Rogier Creemers what they observe has changed within the last year.

Manya Koetse: Pop Songs for Trustworthiness
Social Trend Watcher Manya Koetse on How the Younger Generation Is Being Introduced to the Social Credit System

Rogier Creemers: "This Is Probably the First Time That We Are Moving into an Area That Is More Political" China Analyst Rogier Creemers Doesn't See Much Change Within the Social Credit System But Worries About Drafts for Regulations of the Online Industry



Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Talk at the Library: The Corporate Social Credit System
A conversation with Markus Herrmann of Sinolytics about the Corporate Social Credit System (社会信用体系) and what role it plays in the major shift in China's market access regime.



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 in fact sheet and hosted the Sinica Podcast for a live recording of an episode about the topic in the autumn of 2018. On this site we have gathered all content related to the Social Credit System, with the latest content on top. With the release of the Sinica podcast episode we close the special series by the end of November 2018.


The Sinica Podcast, November 2018

Mythbusting China's Social Credit System, an episode of the Sinica podcast, recorded live on October 31, 2018 at Asia Society Switzerland


In the Press, November 2018

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"

Read our Behind the Scenes interviews with Manya Koetse here, with Rogier Creemers here, and with Kaiser Kuo here.


The Recap of the Live Taping, November 2018

Social Credit Score's in a Low-Trust Society

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

Kaiser Kuo

"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.

Manya Koetse

"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.

Rogier Creemers

"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.

Mirjam Meissner

"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."