China’s “social credit” scheme involves cajolery and sanctions
Some people shrug it off, others worry
Just over a year ago, the eastern city of Suqian announced a plan to score the “trustworthiness” of every adult resident. Everyone would start with 1,000 points. They could get more for performing good deeds, such as voluntary work, giving blood, donating bone-marrow or being a model worker. Points would be deducted for bad behaviour such as defaulting on loans, late payment of utility bills, breaking the rules of the road or being convicted of a crime. Scores would be recalculated monthly and allow residents to be sorted into eight categories, from AAA (model citizen) to D (untrustworthy).
Suqian calls the system “Xichu Points”, after the ancient kingdom of Western Chu to which the area once belonged. It appears to be up and running. A government office in the city offers leaflets explaining how it works. Residents can look up their rating by entering their identity-card number
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