The Party is using the system to win back some of the control it lost when China opened up to the world in the 1980s and rapid development followed.
It’s a way to silence dissent and ensure the Party’s absolute dominance.
Already, about 10 million people have been punished in the trial areas of social credit.
Liu Hu is just one of them.
Hu lost his social credit when he was charged with a speech crime and now finds himself locked out of society due to his low score.
In 2015, Hu lost a defamation case after he accused an official of extortion.
He was made to publish an apology and pay a fine but when the court demanded an additional fee, he refused.
Last year, the 43-year-old found himself blacklisted as “dishonest” under a pilot social credit scheme.
“There are a lot of people who are on the blacklist wrongly, but they can’t get off it,” says Hu.
It’s destroyed his career and isolated him, and he now fears for his family’s future.
The social credit system has closed down his travel options and kept him under effective house arrest in his hometown of Chongqing.
In an apartment above the streets of Chongqing city, Hu tries to use a phone app to book train tickets to Xi’an. The attempt is rejected.
“[The app] says it fails to make a booking and my access to high-speed rail is legally restricted,” he explains.
Hu’s social media accounts, where he published much of his investigative journalism, have also been shut down.
Hu claims his combined Wechat and Weibo accounts had two million followers at their peak but are now censored.
Safety and stability are bywords for control. Personal prestige as a means of improving one’s living standards is the tool used to ensure compliance. The confluence of social media primping is hardly a coincidence. That is not something China has a monopoly on. The difference, however, is democracy and rule of law ensures a check on the overarching ambitions of governments to exert control over their citizens.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top