Over 15 Million Flights and Train Trips Blocked by China's Social Credit System

By Adam Robbins, May 24, 2018

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Over 15 million travel attempts have been blocked under China’s evolving social credit system, in keeping with the State Council’s 2014 promise to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

Business Insider reports that as of May 1, 2018, this “collection of blacklists, of which there are more than a dozen at the national level,” blocked 11.14 million flights and 4.25 million tickets for high-speed trains.

A range of offenses can earn a person a place in the blacklists: misbehavior when flying or riding a train, spreading false information about terrorism, refusing a pay one’s debts and much more.

READ MORE: Unruly Behavior Can Now Get You Banned from Trains and Planes in China

The blacklist associated with unpaid debts started in 2013 with just over 31,000 names, but grew to 8.8 million by the end 2017. At that point, authorities announced they’d prevented debtors from purchasing 8.7 million flights and 3.4 million high-speed train trips. 

This new report marks over three million more trips blocked since December’s announcement. It is unclear whether this is due to heightened enforcement, the addition of many more names to the debtors’ blacklist or simply a new total that includes travel prevented by all blacklists. 

Not to be confused with Sesame Credit, a pilot scoring system within the Alibaba corporate empire, China’s social credit system is an attempt to use big data and new tracking technology to reward or punish citizens – and corporations – for a wide range of behavior.

In its excellent profile from Rongcheng, Shandong province, Foreign Policy explains: “The national credit system planned for 2020 will be an ‘ecosystem’ made up of schemes of various sizes and reaches, run by cities, government ministries, online payment providers, down to neighborhoods, libraries, and businesses [according to] Chinese researchers who are designing the national scheme. It will all be interconnected by an invisible web of information.”

So keep your noses clean, netizens. Your jaywalking, Mobike mischief or McDonald’s brawl could soon earn you a spot on the blacklist and a boot off the gaotie.

[Image via Mike Beltzner/Flickr]

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