For businesses a social credit system could also be

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have financial banking data on them." For businesses, a social credit system could also be used for micro enterprises, which couldn't be assessed with traditional criteria. Hoffman isn't buying that argument, saying such a system is about government power. "If solving problems was the real goal, the CCP would not need social credit to do it," she says. "China’s social credit system is a state-driven program designed to do one thing, to uphold and expand the Chinese Communist Party’s power." She adds that social credit is a tech-enabled way to tie political power to social and economic development that's been discussed in the country since the 1980s, an automation of Chairman Mao's Mass Line — a term to describe how the party's leadership shaped and managed society. "In Mao’s China, the Mass Line relied on ideological mass mobilisation, using Mao Zedong’s personal charisma, to force participation," Hoffman says. "The CCP could no longer, after the Mao era, rely on ideological mobilisation as the primary tool for operationalising social management." Is there more than social credit? China's social credit scheme is developing, but it is only one part of the country's surveillance state. As well as tight controls on the web content which is available, through the country's national firewall, there is monitoring and censorship of social media. Ahead of the 30-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests researchers at the University of Hong Kong found that critical posts on the social networks of Weibo and Wechat were removed.
Leading video platforms also all simultaneously turned off comments saying system upgrades were needed. There have also been crackdowns on the use of VPNs, which can help protect people's privacy online. The country has developed advanced facial recognition systems that are able to follow people across entire cities. In a show of power at the end of 2017, Chinese officials working in co-operation with BBC Newsshowed how it could track down and find one of the organisation's reporters within seven minutes. The movements of journalist John Sudworth were monitored as the country's network of 170 million CCTV cameras was leveraged to follow him. More worryingly, the region of Xinjiang, in the north west of the country has become a test bed for China's vast digital control operations. In particular, the largely Muslim minority of Uighur people has been subjected to increased surveillance and discrimination. It has been uncovered that more than 500,000 face scans of Uighurs have been conducted. What does this mean for China? The full extent of the impact on social credit to Chinese citizens is impossible to say, simply because the system doesn't fully exist yet. Zeng suggests the reality is somewhere between the government's claims and the Western media's description of horror-filled dystopias. "It's a very like a baby step," she said of the work that's happened so far.

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