Another huh?


The Chinese authoritarian-capitalist model wasn’t supposed to survive in a global free market, let alone thrive. As recently as five years ago, there was consensus that China would one day need fundamental political reform for the state to maintain its legitimacy and that China could not sustain its state capitalist system. Today China’s political and economic system is better equipped and perhaps even more sustainable than the American model

In China, companies use algorithms at the behest of the government to ensure that citizens remain within the rules of order set by the political leadership. There is no better example of this than the “social credit system” that China is developing, a system that allows state officials to assess a person’s financial data, social connections, consumption habits and respect for the law to establish the citizen’s “trustworthiness.”

Imagine a credit report that reveals whether you’ve ever committed a crime, been caught cheating on a test, been drunk in public, missed an alimony payment, been fired from a job, signed a petition, visited undesirable websites, been photographed at a protest or written something on the Internet that led administrators to question your loyalty to the state. A good social credit score could lead to a promotion, a raise, a better apartment, admission to a good school, access to state-approved dating websites, better stores, better doctors, the right to travel, a more generous pension and important opportunities for your children. A bad score could put you in jail.

The potential for intrusion into 1.4 billion personal lives is unprecedented. Published information on the plan by China’s State Council says it is intended as a safeguard against, among other things, “conduct that seriously undermines the normal social order” and “assembling to disrupt social order and endangering national defense interests.” The plan’s ultimate purpose, according to Chinese officials, is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

Let’s just see what happens when productivity slows and GDP per capita starts creeping rather than leaping.

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