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New add-on to China’s Social Credit System: Suzhou’s “Civilization Code”

Media in China reported that Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, introduced a “Civilization Code” on September 3rd. It consists of a “civil transport index” and a “volunteer index,” with more indices and functions to be added in the future.

The civil transport index relates to manners on the road, such as traffic violations and voluntarily assisting with traffic duty, while the volunteer index is a measure of the degree of involvement in voluntary work, which the local authorities say aims to help strengthen awareness of social responsibilities and duty.

During the earlier days of the covid-19 epidemic outbreak, China introduced a “health code” to identify people’s health status and their movements. This invited widespread concern over the issues of privacy and social control. The new measure announced by the Suzhou city government also went viral in China’s cyber space.

People questioned on WeChat whether “scores” could actually quantify the degree of civilization. Others compared this to the British sci-fi series Black Mirror where there was a scoring system to distinguish good people from bad ones.

In 2014, the State Council issued the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System. The main objectives were as follows. By the year 2020, to have established basic fundamental laws, regulations and standard systems for social credit and to have completed a credit investigation system that would cover the entire society with credit information and resource sharing as the basis. This would represent the basic completion of the credit supervision and management systems.

Source: Central News Agency, September 5, 2020