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Social credit system in China: rating system with far-reaching consequences

Since the national system is still under construction and a consistent representation of the Chinese government is missing, there are currently a lot different views on how it works and how it works of the social credit system.

It can be assumed that it will practiced and widespread list system is still being expanded. The listings are based on a rap sheet (a kind of certificate of good conduct). Government agencies use blacklists to assess companies and individuals who violate existing laws, rules and industry regulations to have. In redlists, on the other hand, companies and people who act in a particularly system-compliant manner are documented. Databases with lists are already publicly accessible in China.

Insights into current blacklists and social scorings give for example the National Credit Information Sharing Platform and the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System. On the latter side can your own company valuation under the name of the company or its “Unified Social Credit Identifier” (18-digit number) (the page is only available in Chinese). The Practical Guide to China’s Corporate Social Credit System shows how you can search for your company there and find out details.

Numerous media reports assume that the listing practice is closely related to a Point system will stand. Point-based evaluation systems are already being tested in various projects. For example, this has been around since 2015 Sesame Credit System the Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial, in which Chinese citizens can participate on a voluntary basis. The scoring system primarily assesses the creditworthiness and calculates a personal credit rating based on a point system.

When collecting data, which also includes the B2B platform Alibaba.com and the Group's own online auction house Taobao In addition, information on whereabouts, workplace and family status, payment behavior with invoices and credit card usage is saved. Political statements and consumer behavior in social media are also documented.

While the Alibaba Group will often compare to Amazon is Tencent is the Chinese equivalent of Facebook. The company has been establishing itself for several years Tecent Credit an equivalent to Alibaba's Sesame Credit System. The company generates databases in particular through WeChat, originally a chat service (similar to WhatsApp), which has now been expanded to include other services (e.g. the mobile payment system WeChat Pay, which is comparable to Apple and Google Pay).

A points system is also the basis for a social credit system Chinese coastal city of Rongchengwhich has been tested since 2014. 670,000 inhabitants already live with a social score in their everyday life, which they are among other things Loan applications or for a possible promotion must submit to the employer.

In view of these and other precursor projects, many experts assume the imminent spread of a points-based national social credit system. In the concept, all actors start with one Starting point number (1000 points). Those who behave positively expand their points account (a maximum of 1300 points can be achieved). Anyone who attracts negative attention loses points (lowest value: 600 points). Exemplary actors can hope for a reward. People who do not act in accordance with the governmental positive grid can in the worst case in a blacklist (Blacklist) with the official name “heavily distrusted entities list”.

The previous social credit systems in China are based on certain evaluation criteriathat will most likely also play a role in the nationwide system:

Important evaluation factors for private individuals are currently the Creditworthiness and the Consumer behavior (on- and offline). Activities and rule violations in the social media as well as the everyday and social behavior of a person are included in the rating. Anyone who protects public property, campaigns for family cohesion and cares for parents or sick family members can count on positive effects on the scoring. That too Criminal records and behavior in traffic (e.g. fare dodging, smoking on the train) are relevant for China's social scoring. Furthermore, the eating habits as well as evaluations by superiors and landlords influence the rating.

Special evaluation factors for companies are z. B. Product quality, environmental protection (compliance with / violations of emission standards), pricing and licensing or the handling of data and data transfers. The amount of tax payments and compliance with payment deadlines are also included in the evaluations. There are also company reviews from social media users. Even that Conduct of company employees is relevant for the rating of an entire company. If there are several branches in China, the assessment of a single location can affect the entire company.

It is currently unclear how these evaluation criteria are weighted in a national rating system and whether each violation has an immediate negative impact. It is more likely - as China experts such as Jeremy Daumhin point out - that initially a serious criminally relevant incident must exist (fraud, theft, tax evasion). Only then will the negative profile be supplemented with further misconduct.

It is also unclear at this point in time when Ratings and blacklists in the national system updated should be. Currently, a blacklist entry can be retained for more than 5 years in the event of a serious violation; it will be deleted after six months at the earliest. The process can be accelerated by promptly addressing underlying problems. Companies can use a Credit Rescue Commitment Letter and suitable exonerating material to take action against a bad ranking and demand the cancellation of negative reviews. Administrative legal remedies are also available.

According to media reports, the Chinese social credit system is to be implemented technically with the help of networked databases, digital image and sound recordings, big data and data mining analysis and methods of artificial intelligence. The technical evaluations will not only be able to fall back on the database of existing projects and systems. The nationwide digital-electronic surveillance system, the Skynet is called. It currently consists of almost 600 million surveillance cameraswhich are used, among other things, for face recognition and, more recently, partly for gait recognition.