What do you think of Beijing

Total surveillance will begin in Beijing in 2020

China's government is serious about its controversial plan to assess the creditworthiness and trustworthiness of its people using individually awarded social points. Beijing started the countdown to the introduction of the social credit system on Monday. This initiates the complete monitoring of the 13.59 million Beijing residents as well as that of the approximately eight million immigrants to the capital.

The spectacular announcement was hidden in an action plan for 2018-2020 decided by the city government. According to the official Beijing website "Qianlongwang", 22 tasks and 298 measures are named to improve the "business climate" and optimize administration. Local newspapers only mentioned in their headlines the introduction of credit assessment points in the city, which Beijing residents first learned about.

Black lists are also planned

Beijing plans to use "reward and penalty points" to rate all citizens in the city, according to the statements. Those who do particularly well or particularly badly will see effects on their access to market activities, public services, travel opportunities and career choices. "Black lists" of people or companies should also be published on a regular basis. Anyone who loses their creditworthiness should "expect restrictions everywhere and not make any progress".

The capital plays the precursor to a development planned for the whole of China by the State Council. In 2014, the latter decided on the roadmap for setting up the social credit system. This should be introduced as a core element for a new management of society by 2020 and implemented in the IT age with the help of artificial intelligence. Theoretical thought leaders speak of a state and administrative evaluation system.

Educational impact

According to official bodies, the goal is to build a "harmonious society" and more efficiency, trustworthiness and creditworthiness in business and trade, for social security and in legal, cultural and educational areas.

Critics, on the other hand, speak of a non-transparent system for totalitarian surveillance of the population. US Vice President Mike Pence recently publicly condemned the project: "By 2020, China's rulers plan to introduce an Orwellian system with the intention of controlling practically every facet of human life."

In fact, many important points have not been made public. The plan lacks explanations as to the criteria according to which a citizen covered by the social point system should be assessed, who does this and how the different test phases are to be standardized by 2020.

Travel bans for debtors

In addition to local pilot projects in 43 small towns - for example in eastern China's district town of Rongcheng - Beijing has already set up national platforms. One of them is "China's Schufa". It is under the auspices of the Supreme People's Court and blacklists all debtors sentenced by the courts to foreclosure (more than twelve million people so far). Your database is connected to the computer networks of border control, transport companies and another 50 authorities. Affected debtors are not allowed to travel on high-speed trains or airplanes. Two million people used it to repay their debts.

Local authorities are also punished. The former state planning authority and today's Commission for Reforms and Development (NDRC) has been monitoring local governments and municipalities since 2017. Authorities and their employees accused of fraudulent behavior or credit fraud are set by the NDRC in its "Credit China" database. It is connected to 44 networks in provinces and cities. The equivalent of 415 million euros was repaid by local authorities, said NDRC spokesman Meng Wei in mid-November.

Dog away in case of wrongdoing

Many Chinese experiments seem like bizarre pieces in the puzzle for building a unified social credit system. Shandong's provincial capital, Jinan, awards negative points for undisciplined dog owners, China television reported in October. Anyone who does not keep his four-legged friend on a leash and does not clean the street after his business will receive deductions from a twelve-point account. Once that is down to zero, the authorities will take the dog away from him. The owner will only receive it again when he has paid all the fines and has passed an official examination as a trustworthy dog ​​owner. (Johnny Erling from Beijing, November 20, 2018)