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China Releases Social Credit System Music Video

People bicycle past a giant TV screen broadcasting the meeting of visiting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in June.(ANDY WONG/AP)
ANDY WONG/AP
FRANCES MARTEL

An offshoot of the Chinese Communist Youth League published a video featuring Chinese celebrities promoting the nation’s totalitarian social credit system to young people, urging them to give “thumbs up to integrity,” Australia’s ABC News reported on Wednesday.

The music video, titled, “Live Up to Your Word,” features a variety of Chinese actors and musicians who cater to young audiences, including 24-year-old actor Xu Weizhou, popular boy band member Wang Yuan, and romantic comedy star Wei Daxun.

Beginning with a heavy guitar riff reminiscent of early 2000s American punk-pop, the video features its stars in various public settings encouraging the listener to participate in communist society as the Party decrees, whether at school, in the workplace, or playing sports. The stars lead business meetings, study in libraries, and grocery shop, the implicit message of the video being that only by obeying the Party can a young person have access to the necessary resources to participate in society.

According to ABC News’ translation, the lyrics urge the viewer to “be a trustworthy youth.”

“Let’s give the thumbs up to integrity, and unite in building Credit China together,” the video suggests. “Live every day carefully.”

“Although the lyrics don’t specifically mention the Social Credit System (SCS), actors and singers are seen demonstrating how to be a trustworthy citizen in a range of scenarios such as shopping at an unmanned store, renting a shared bike, reading at a public library, and finalising a business deal,” the ABC report notes.

The video is reportedly a production of China Youth Credit Action, a campaign to promote the social credit system supervised by the Communist Youth League. The Youth League is responsible for recruiting young communists, ensuring that young people do not deviate away from communist values, and controlling nearly every aspect of the lives of its members. The group has worked to promote banning participation in Western festivities such as Christmas, and launched a dating service in 2017 to promote marriage and reproduction among communists (and, presumably, to keep communists from falling in love with unauthorized persons who may hold alternative points of view).

The social credit system is an all-encompassing control method in which the government assigned a numerical value to the “credit” of a person to society. The number is based on both loyalty to the Party and general courtesy in public – both political dissidence and general misbehavior, such as littering or jaywalking, could hurt a person’s score. The consequences of a low score make it harder for a person to participate in society by limiting access to flights, trains, and public transportation or depriving people of access to government services.

The system will not fully go into place until 2020, so the government has begun publishing promotional material for it now. It is currently partially operational, however, and blocked Chinese citizens from buying 23 million airplane and train tickets as of March 2019.

On Thursday, the Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper reported that the Communist Party is considering adding unpaid parking tickets to the metric that determines a person’s credit score. The article discusses traditional financial credit scores but states that the People’s Bank of China (PBC) is working to integrate its credit system into a government-controlled “personal credit score.” It quotes a Chinese professor promoting the use of all human behavior to determine a financial credit score.

“Dong Dengxin, director of the Financial Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it is important to establish a comprehensive credit system, rather than a one-sided database that only focuses on financial activities, in order to regulate social behavior,” the newspaper reports, noting that Dong believes this system is not possible without having strict privacy protection in place so that only the repressive Communist Party has access to the information.

The Global Times also ran a column Wednesday by a senior PBC official urging the establishment of a credit score for local governments, so that the national Communist Party can keep them under tight control.

“Government credibility is an important part of establishing a social credit system, which should supervise government activities and debt risks,” the article argued.

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