China’s “Social Credit System” Will Rate How Valuable You Are As A Human

By Dom Galeon and Brad Bergan


A Citizen Score in China

In a contentious world first, China plans to implement a social credit system  (officially referred to as a Social Credit Score or SCS) by 2020. The idea first appeared in a document from the State Council of China published in June 2014. It is a technological advancement so shocking to modern-minded paradigms that many can do little but sit back in defeatist chagrin as science fiction shows us its darker side.

The SCS seems relatively simple. Every citizen in China, which now has numbers swelling to well over 1.3 billion, would be given a score that, as a matter of public record, is available for all to see. This citizen score comes from monitoring an individual’s social behavior — from their spending habits and how regularly they pay bills, to their social interactions — and it’ll become the basis of that person’s trustworthiness, which would also be publicly ranked.

This actually sounds worse than an Orwellian nightmare.

Image credit: David Dettmann/Netflix

A citizen’s score affects their eligibility for a number of services, including the kinds of jobs or mortgages they can get, and it also impacts what schools their children qualify for. In this respect, the SCS resembles one of the most chilling episodes from Black Mirror’s third season. Incidentally, the show isn’t really known as a “feel-good” flick. It presents various dystopian views of society, but China’s SCS proves reality is darker than fiction.

This “service” isn’t slated to go full-swing until 2020, but China has already started a voluntary implementation of the SCS by partnering with a number of private companies in order to iron out the algorithmic details needed for such a large-scale, data-driven system.

The companies that are implementing SCS include China Rapid Finance, which is a partner of social network giant Tencent, and Sesame Credit, a subsidiary of Alibaba affiliate company Ant Financial Services Group (AFSG). Both Rapid Finance and Sesame Credit have access to intimidating quantities of data, the former through its WeChat messaging app (at present with 850 million active users) and the latter through its AliPay payment service.

According to local media, Tencent’s SCS comes with its QQ chat app, where an individual’s score comes in a range between 300 and 850 and is broken down into five sub-categories: social connections, consumption behavior, security, wealth, and compliance.

Positive (and Negative) Reinforcement

Proponents of the SCS see this as an opportunity to improve on some of the state’s services. Some argue that this would give Chinese citizens much-needed access to financial services. The government also says that this will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to The Wall Street Journal. In some situations, this could prove workable. Afterall, finance and loan organizations already detail debtors’ credit eligibility if they happen to be in default, preventing them from taking on more debt that they may be unable to pay back.

The utopic goal of managing citizen finances via structural checks and balances feels like an elegant solution to assuage public debt, and will certainly encourage all involved to improve their debt activity. But structural management of personal finances on this all-pervasive level crosses several boundaries.

The major issue is this: the SCS goes well beyond just rating ones ability to manage debt; in essence, it puts a number on a citizen rating their worth as a human being — and it forces others to respect that rating.

“China’s proposed social score is an absolute reaffirmation of China continuing to push forward to be a complete police state,” said Anurag Lal, former Director of the U.S. National Broadband Task Force for the FCC under the Obama administration and president and CEO of mobility solutions firm Infinite Convergence, in an email to Futurism. “They take it a step further by becoming not only an establishment of a totalitarian police state that monitors its people but one that completely evades users’ privacy. All forms of activity and interactions, online or otherwise, will be rated, available to view and stored as data.”

It seems that the infamous Great Firewall is only the most well-known feature of China’s worsening socio-political plight.

Big Data for Good Behavior

More than working as a social enabler, such a system could end up becoming highly restrictive. Speaking to WIRED, Sesame Credit’s Technology Director, Li Yingyun, admitted as much, saying that under an SCS system, a person could be judged by his purchases. “Someone who plays video games for ten hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person,” Li said. “Someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility.”

Li sees these as positive developments, by virtue of which a person is encouraged to take greater responsibility for their living and spending habits in order to earn a positive citizen score — i.e. become “trustworthy.” Chinese blogger Rasul Majid told WIRED that he actually thinks it’s a better way of keeping tabs on how the government monitors his data. If one knows how one is surveilled, one knows when and where to clean up one’s act.

Lal, however, disagrees: “How do you define people’s behaviors on a day-to-day basis? People do so many different things for so many different reasons, and if the context is not appreciated it can be misconstrued,” he said. The words ring true. One does not need to think hard to uncover why it may be problematic to say that people who have children are, in essence, people you should trust. What does this mean for the infertile? What does it mean for same-sex couples? What does it mean for people who simply do not wish to have children?

Probably nothing good.

In the end, even a basic SCS system that only rates a few data points could paint a very inaccurate and incomplete picture of a person. “You may be playing games for 10 hours and if the algorithm says you’re idle, it might miss the reason you’re playing these games. Maybe you’re an engineer and you’re beta testing them. But now you’re automatically designated as an idle person,” Lal added. “When in reality, maybe you were just doing your job.”

Ultimately, the problem is that “socially acceptable behavior” will be defined by the Chinese government, not a democratic process or an objective panel. And punitive measures will certainly be taken when a person breaks this trust.

With the SCS, the Chinese government will actually hit two birds with one stone: They will have a way of promoting and enforcing what they consider to be “socially acceptable behavior,” and they will have a way of monitoring virtually all aspects of citizens’ lives.

Lal doesn’t believe this setup could fly long term, though. “In the free world, this will never catch on. If they’re naive enough to roll it out, it will harm China’s credibility on a regional and global scale. Tech companies working in China are already frustrated due to the intense restrictions when it comes to tech policies and encryption — this will only add to their frustration.”

This system represents something more insidious than the panopticon that renowned social theorist Michel Foucault warned us about. So let’s hope that Lal is correct.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to make it clear that Lal is the “former” director under the Obama administration.

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Iran & China seek to eliminate US dollar from bilateral trade

The topic of de-dollarization was raised at a meeting between leading Chinese government political adviser Chen Yuan and Iranian central bank officials in Tehran.

“Rial-yuan’s bilateral monetary agreement can have a significant role in increasing the volume of trade between the two countries and in this regard, we have conducted a series of negotiations with the central bank of the Republic of China’s president,”  said the Central Bank of Iran’s Governor Valiollah Seif.

Tehran has been pursuing the goal of eliminating the dollar in its trade, and has been trying to sign currency swap agreements with a few target countries.

Chen said that Iran and China should develop their banking links and also underlined the unfairness of the existing financial system, dominated by a few developed countries. He added, other nations would do better if the unfair system is eliminated.

“We could use the experiences of European countries in establishing the euro as a common currency between many countries, which is not exclusively controlled by a single country. But until then, we need to utilize the maximum available capacities to expand our banking relations,” he was quoted as saying by the Iranian daily.

However, any such initiatives require time and effort by several countries, the Chinese official said.

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China defends crackdown on cryptocurrencies

“If we didn’t shut bitcoin exchanges and crack down on initial coin offerings a few months ago, and if more than 80 percent of the world’s bitcoin transactions and financing activities were still taking place in China, which was the case back in January, what would it be like today? It’s scary to think about,” said the banker as quoted by Chinese business daily Yicai.

China, once the world’s largest bitcoin trading market, clamped down on cryptocurrency exchanges earlier this year. Beijing suspects the trade in cryptocurrencies is being used by Chinese citizens to move cash abroad. In September, the country’s regulator banned bitcoin trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The ban forced all bitcoin exchanges and cryptocurrency trading platforms to immediately stop registering new users and announce plans to stop virtual currency transaction services. As a result, the world’s oldest bitcoin exchange, Shanghai-based BTCC, shut its operations.

The measure dragged down the price of bitcoin with the world’s leading cryptocurrency losing nearly 25 percent of its value in ten days. Since then bitcoin has gone through a bull run, which reached another record high above $11,800 on Sunday. The bitcoin token has surged more than 10-fold in value this year.

Chinese exchange and wallet services had to move activities overseas with local investors reportedly turning to peer-to-peer marketplaces to continue active trading of digital currencies. The Chinese government is reportedly working on developing its own sovereign digital currency despite all the restrictive measures.

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China think tank calls for a more ‘democratic’ internet governance. And that means what, exactly?

China Internet


China ranks fifth among 38 nations globally in standards of cyber governance, a top state-backed internet think tank said on Monday, calling for a ‘democratic’ internet governance system to eradicate inequalities it said marginalized developing nations.

China has pushed strongly for a unified cyber governance regime, but other countries, business groups and firms have criticized its strict stance. Officials have sought a greater role for China in strengthening global internet governance.

China ranks after the United States, Japan, France and Estonia, the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies said in a report released at China’s World Internet Conference in the eastern town of Wuzhen.

“We should promote the establishment of a multinational, democratic and transparent global internet governance system,” it said.

For the third straight year, independent U.S. rights watchdog Freedom House ranked China last in internet freedom this year, however.

China’s internet governance initiatives include strict new censorship and surveillance curbs introduced this year that target news outlets, social media and individuals on the net.

The Cyberspace Administration of China says the new measures, which include the monitoring of private chat apps and censoring tools to block viewing of overseas websites, are designed to maintain social order and protect socialist values.

“(All countries) should give full play to the Internet to spread positive things like justice, kindness, liveliness and goodness in cyberspace,” the report said, without elaborating.

China adopted a new cybersecurity measure this year requiring foreign firms to store data in the country and submit to surveillance checks. Business groups say the law is harsher than comparable policies in Europe and the United States.

The report also ranks China as second in global internet development and innovation behind the United States and 23rd in cybersecurity, and gives insight into how China sees its internet development.

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Beware of Jellyfish: China Unveils “WMD” to Protect Aircraft Carriers

Home » Asia, Technology » Beware of Jellyfish: China Unveils “WMD” to Protect Aircraft Carriers


Upon discovering that swarms of mush-like jellyfish are apparently a threat to its new aircraft carrier, The Liaoning, Beijing quickly moved to develop applicable methods on how to deal with the problem.

One of the techniques, called a “jellyfish shredder” has lately been put to the test, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

The new counter-jellyfish mechanism consists of a net, several hundred meters long and wide, which is towed by a tugboat ahead of the carrier. As it moves it sweeps a path through coastal waterways, freeing them of enormous masses of jellyfish, which then get mashed into a sticky soup once stuck in the cooling vents.

One of the solutions currently in use is to pump the waterways with bubbles, forcing jellyfish to surface and spread chemicals upon them. Yet, another issue arises as fish, having eaten poisoned “jellies”, appear on dinner plates, sparking concern with scientists and locals alike.One of the downsides to the technique is reportedly a further migration of stingy creatures to coastal areas popular with swimmers, since their bites feel itchy and may cause inflammation or in the worst case prove to be lethal, experts argue, citing some sort of “active venom” in jellyfish bodies.

Jellyfish irruptions are pressing for urgent action along the Chinese coast, since their worrisome quantities signal a mass environmental upheaval which the country is currently facing following its sweeping construction projects in the South China Sea.



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Re: China to deploy troops to fight alongside Assad in Syria

China is planning to send troops to Syria to aid President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, according to the New Khaleej.

According to informed sources, the move comes as China becomes increasingly concerned with the presence of Islamic militants in the East Turkestan region, who have been sighted aiding opposition groups in Syria.

Last week, during a meeting with Syrian Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised the regime’s efforts at tackling the fighters from the Islamic East Turkistan Movement.

The Syrian regime has also claimed that some 5,000 fighters of Uyghur origin, an ethnic Muslim minority that Chinese authorities regularly accuse of terrorism, have arrived in Syria, illegally passing through Southeast Asia and Turkey.

The sources said that the Chinese Ministry of Defence intends to send two units known as the “Tigers of Siberia” and the “Night Tigers” from the Special Operations Forces to aid Syrian government troops.

Read: Russia to reduce forces in Syria by end of the year

This is not the first time Chinese troops have crossed into Syria; in 2015 the Syrian regime permitted some 5,000 soldiers to enter its territory as allied forces and stationed them in the Western region of Latakia. Chinese military advisors were also among the deployment, as well as naval and aerial assets.

China is one of the five veto-wielding powers of the UN Security Council and, along with Russia, has used its power on more than one occasion to protect the interests of the Syrian regime.

Russian support has given the government an upper hand in the six year-long civil war, especially as the battle against Daesh comes to an end.

More than half a million people are believed to have been killed since 2011, the vast majority by the Assad government and allied forces. The regime has also used chemical weapons against civilians and prevented aid from reaching those affected on the ground. UN officials further estimate that some ten million people have been displaced as a result of the fighting.

Read: Russia proposed Syria summit draws mixed reactions from international community

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China copies Boston Dynamics robot, puts it on mass sale for $25K

Home » Asia, Technology, Videos » China copies Boston Dynamics robot, puts it on mass sale for $25K


No doggy-doo, vet visits or bones – now everyone can buy a robot canine online and enjoy spending time with their new four-legged friend, feeding it only with electricity. The following Chiense robot is a copy of Boston Dynamics Big Dog and Spot.

Laikago – named after Laika, a Soviet dog who was the first living creature to orbit the Earth – weighs 22kg, a bit less than a common Labrador. It’s some 60cm tall.

“It is a kind of medium automatic robot, a robot-dog in short,” Wang Xingxing the man who copied the robot told RT’s Ruptly video news agency. “We have popularized Laikago among science and technology companies, and science fans. So Laikago is a scientific toy.”

The four-legged mechanical pet is able to run on grass and can assimilate canine-like movements, just like a flesh-and-blood pooch. The initial price for Laikago will be around US$25,000, but may drop in the future.

The makers did not comment on whether RoboDog is so lifelike as to hump your leg or drink from the toilet.



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China unveils hypersonic missile capable of speeds up to Mach 25


The Dongfeng-41 will be capable of hypersonic speeds up to Mach 25 and has been in development for more than 30 years.

Chinese scientists have tested the weapon eight times since 2012 – and carried out their most recent tests deep in the desert earlier this month.

State media reports the missile is due to enter the arsenal of the People’s Liberation Army in early 2018.

Carrying 10 nuclear warheads, the weapon is believed to be 33 tons and approximately 15 metres long.

China’s state-owned newspaper The Global Times claims the weapon will be able to strike “anywhere in the world”.

It can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, each of which can target separately,” Missile expert Xu Guangyu said.

He added: “Once the Dongfeng-41 goes into service, China’s ability to protect its own safety and to prevent wars would greatly increase.”

Beijing has the largest military force in the world and newly empowered President Xi Jinping said he wants China to be able to win any war.



Propaganda produced by China claims the Dongfeng-41 is one of the five most powerful missiles in the world.

It also claimed to have an arsenal of up to 2,500 missiles ready for conflict at any time.

Local media reports China may have tested the Dongfeng-41 just two days before US President Donald Trump arrived for a one-on-one meeting with President Xi.

Estimates place the Dongfeng-41’s operational range between 7,500 and and 9,000 miles – putting the US comfortably in range.

The weapon can either be deployed from a hidden missile silo or loaded onto the back of a truck.

Relations have long been frosty between the US and China as the Communist giant continues to expand its influence in Asia.


China unveiled new hypersonic warheads last week as the superpower showed off its new state-of-the-art wind tunnel.

Hypersonic weapons are believed to be the next frontier in the development of missiles and aircraft.

Tensions between the US and North Korea have stoked fears China may intervene on Kim’s behalf in a war with Trump.

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