Credit Scores and Personal Privacy Clash in China

Stan Ward

Stan Ward

October 7, 2015

China just doesn’t get it. Try as it might to become a genuine player on the world economic scene, it invariably shoots itself in the proverbial foot. The political paranoia is pervasive, as witnessed in its flailing about as its stock market was tanking, invoking senseless stimuli to staunch the bleeding, while capital continued to abandon the market. As a result, China has set back its recognition as a viable repository for capital investment for years. The latest attempt at legitimacy chronicles the lamentable laughable excuse for developing a universal credit score similar to the ones used in the west.

Never to be confused with a free society, China continue down its perilous path by going several steps beyond the Western criteria, which measures things such as income, assets, debt, past purchases, and repayment history. In its communist collective wisdom, it has included whether or not items purchased are government approved (i.e whether their purchase will benefit the greater good of the state) and, further, with whom you associate and communicate with. Thus, if you toe the party line, your score will likely improve.

So this is more of a citizen status report rather than a reliable picture of one’s creditworthiness. Concerned with improving your social standing? Simple – buy a government approved item such as a dishwasher or population-friendly baby supplies, and you’re on your way. On the other hand, if you waste your money on video games, your score will take a hit. And anybody can check your credit score, which, judging from the millions of social media posts, is the new bragging rights in the communist country.

Getting back to the stock market meltdown, and to highlight how arbitrary and capricious this new credit score system is, it will be negatively affected if you subscribe to a publication that dared to report on the crash or the resulting currency crunch. Your score will also be negatively affected if your friends or associates report “embarrassing” information. Needless to say, your hobbies and shopping habits will be scrutinized, and will affect your score.

Why, you may ask, should you get your feathers ruffled over this system, which is due to become ubiquitous and mandatory by 2020? Because our quality of life and life options are affected by your score! You see, with attaining each level, perks are applied. The most basic of these perks is internet connectivity. This has a dual purpose. First, it punishes a citizen by denying them access, but then it serves to further advance the party’s agenda by stifling dissent by obstructing the free flow of information.

The sinister scheme can grant you access to collateral-free small loans of under $1000 for a score of 600, to a much desired European visa for a score of 750 with various other party-approved incentives in between such as a rental car without leaving a deposit or permission to travel to capitalist haven Singapore. So, if you don’t want to miss out on these quality-of-life enhancements, you’d better be careful with whom you associate. But not to worry, under this system they won’t be in circulation for long, as they will be socially and economically neutered and shunted into oblivion.

The intent is clear – trudge the straight and narrow and you will be tossed a few crumbs. But to share in the government largesse, you have to forsake critical thinking and free speech. The short-sighted government doesn’t realize that this type of repression will forever exclude it from the economic community it so desperately longs to be a part of, regardless of its feeble attempt to emulate Western systems.

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