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China’s Social Engineering Experiment begins
It’s March 2020 and an update flashes up on your smartphone app.
– Update glasses prescription = 5 points.
– Healthy body mass. Have reduced body fat percentage = 10 points.
– Bought less than 2 alcoholic drinks a week = 20 points.
– Spent more than $50 on Uber eats in one week = – 10 points.
– Donated to homeless charity = 15 points.
– Lied to parents and said you were busy when they asked for help to fix a few things around the house = – 25 points.
The app informs your score has increased 15 points for the month.
Overall, your social credit score has increased.
The bump higher means you now get a discount on car insurance, one free ride on the sharing bikes and you don’t need to leave a deposit for the locker at your local gym.
No, this isn’t the start of some Orwellian dystopian novel.
This is exactly what Beijing will look like in 2020.
How the Middle Kingdom lost control
China is an economic phenomenon.
It’s a mishmash of political ideology duelling with western laissez-faire-driven markets.
Since the end of the Mao regime in 1978, the leadership in China has pushed to open their economy for international trade.
All while trying desperately to maintain tight communist-like controls on people.
Chinese leaders began opening the trade pathways by turning their one billion people into a manufacturing powerhouse.
Within a decade, the Chinese people were the cheap labour source for the majority of Western countries.
Come the mid-90s, when industrial cities were being built in rural areas.
This newly-employed sector of the economy suddenly had a purchasing power they’d never had. Permanent homes were needed rather than temporary shelters. Bridges and roads were built to get them there.
Leading to the biggest credit-driven infrastructure boom this century.
In all of this growth, however, China was losing control of their people.
People were earning money and felt freer than ever before, something the Chinese government couldn’t allow.
Creating a credit system where there is no credit
Between the 80s and the 90s, Chinese officials of various towns kept hardcopy files on everyone’s lives where possible.
But with the explosion of jobs and less restriction on movement between towns, keeping up-to-date data on individuals was difficult.
That was until 2011, when the Chinese government started to take advantage of the 365 million citizens that owned smartphones.
Today, that number has almost doubled to 663 million.
Making social monitoring a whole lot easier.
And it all began through the simple use of a smartphone app called Zhima Credit.
Developed by Ant Financial – a branch of Alibaba – Zhima credit promoted itself as a tool for establishing personal credit in China. To do this, the app would analyse ‘big data’ about your payment history. Then, the algorithm would spit an out analysis of your personal behaviour. The final step was a ‘personal credit’ score.
In the early days, the personal credit score would get you discounts on some goods.
However, the massive uptake of mobile phone use and the associated personal credit score will soon take a much darker turn.
See, China has never been a ‘credit card’ country. It’s a nation that favours savings over spending. Plus there is a deep, inherent mistrust of the banks in the Middle Kingdom.
So, establishing a credit system in a country where credit is scarce was impossible.
However, the young, tech-savvy Chinese population were keen to adopt mobile phone technology and all its benefits. Like ditching cash and paying with the mobile phone ‘tap & go’ feature.
And given that outside mobile payment platforms are banned inside China, electronic transactions are paid using either the WeChat or Alipay-owned technology.
Essentially, concentrating the data to one or two companies.
And enabling mass analysis of all the transaction data.
Which formed the basis of the ‘social credit’ system that is currently being run in a city called Hangzhou.
‘Lifestyle’ behaviours are rewarded. Giving blood, not smoking or drinking, and volunteering are all ‘rewarded’. Ignoring road rules and trashing the government are punished.
Already, some 11 million flights and 4 million train trips have been stopped by people with a low social credit score.
In fact, one Chinese journalist who has spoken out against the government found he couldn’t even board a plane in China.
His only option to travel across the country was a third-class seat on a train. That’s how low his ‘social credit’ score was.
And guess what?
This social credit score system will be rolled out to Beijing in 2020. And monitor the 20 million people in the city daily.
Controlling political dissent
To ensure social behaviour is controlled, the social credit system even links friendship groups together. And their credit score affects your credit score.
Meaning you better have a group of like-minded friends, or your personal score will get dragged down.
The popularisation of the phone technology isn’t the problem here.
What is the issue is the exploitation of young people’s eagerness to use modern-day tech.
And it’s something China is openly willing to take advantage of.
In fact, it has a name: It’s called social engineering.
Through it, the Chinese Communist Party is creating an ‘invisible authoritarianism’. Although in Australia, we just call it Big Brother.
The idea is that China wants its people to know they are always watching. So that the population will behave in a manner that doesn’t threaten the government.
This is something, of course, that hints to just how insecure the political leadership in the country really is.
Why do this?
It discourages dissent. It allows a dictatorship to monitor and control and twist the population into the shape they want.
There is a powerful dictatorship forming in China.
However, dictatorships don’t last.
China may be getting ready to watch their people.
But the social engineering experiment won’t last. I’ll show you why tomorrow.
Editor, The Daily Reckoning Australia