China’s public Social Credit System versus the West’s secret Panopticon. China Rising Radio Sinoland 180111
Above: the sobering fact of the matter is, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, deep learning, facial and voice recognition, wall to street surveillance, supercomputers, drones and robots are now a reality facing all of humanity. Right here, right now, and China is racing ahead of the rest of the world to make it happen. But, every government and their elites in the world are using these technologies, whether we like it or not. It is an unstoppable wave and rapidly swelling into a tsunami.
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Behind the Great Western Firewall, if you have come across any news about China’s Social Credit System (SCS), it was probably not very flattering. Mainstream propaganda is using all the usual trigger words to elicit within you a Pavlovian revulsion: totalitarian, Orwellian, Big Brother, New World Order, nightmare, disturbing, troubling, dystopia, police state, fascism, abusive, insidious, Panopticon (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon) – and those are the terms I found in just a few articles. It’s not worth linking them, but if you wish to, just search “(China/Chinese) social credit system/score”. They are all about the same. The West’s propaganda foghorn is blasting away in synchronized, symphonic goosestep.
One article blared the headline, “China’s “Social Credit System” Will Rate How Valuable You Are as a Human, which is total bollocks. The SCS’s purpose is to determine for anyone who lives in China or any company doing business, their reputation for good citizenship, not their intrinsic or spiritual value.
Are you a person or company who helps your community at large to cooperate and seek harmony? Do you volunteer your time and money to help others? Do you better your neighborhood? Are you conscientious about your surroundings, your environment and public property? Do you drive responsibly? If you find something valuable, do you turn it in to the police? Do you pay your financial debts in a timely fashion? For companies, do you take good care of your employees, properties, environment, neighborhoods and communities? Do you pay your taxes accurately?
There are a thousand examples that could be listed. If you do all of the above, your SCS will be very high and you will be blessed with many privileges, like paying a much smaller down payment for a house, no questions asked loans, discounts, lower taxes and fees; moving up in waiting lists for public services, an increased chance of getting into a better university, scholarships, job offers, help with starting a business and the like. On the other hand, if you or your company is the mirror image of all the above, then you can expect just the opposite: higher taxes, fines and moving down the totem pole for loans, services and opportunities.
The sobering fact of the matter is, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, deep learning, facial and voice recognition, wall to street surveillance, supercomputers, drones and robots are now a reality facing all of humanity (chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/11/30/do-you-see-what-i-see-depends-on-where-you-look-china-rising-radio-sinoland-171130/) right here, right now, and China is racing ahead of the rest of the world to make it happen. Every government and their elites in the world are using these technologies, whether we like it not. It is an unstoppable wave and rapidly swelling into a tsunami.
So, the key issue is,
Will your government and elites use these surveillance technologies for the betterment of society and its citizens, or to turn the whole show into a totalitarian, Orwellian, Big Brother, New World Order nightmare; a disturbing, troubling dystopia; a fascist police state; an abusive, insidious Panopticon?
Having lived in China for almost 15 years, I can state with total confidence that compared to Eurangloland’s owners, Baba Beijing is going to use all this technology much more constructively and fairly for its people and the rest of humanity. First, China’s Social Credit System law is totally public and fully available to every citizen. Don’t believe me? The actual first draft law came out in 2014 and it is expected to be implemented by 2020. Here is the English translation (chinacopyrightandmedia.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/planning-outline-for-the-construction-of-a-social-credit-system-2014-2020/). It is regularly discussed in the media and any Chinese person who can fog a mirror has at least heard about it, if not gotten up to speed. It’s a very big deal here, as it should be, given how much it is going to shape and move society and business.
Baba Beijing is giving every citizen a chance to critique the law and make recommendations, for which millions have surely been submitted. Not only that, but any foreigner or foreign company or government has the same opportunity to comment and criticize all proposed legislation in the National People’s Congress (NPC: cpcchina.chinadaily.com.cn/2011-10/28/content_13996130.htm). Numerous tweaks, deletions and additions will surely be made over time. To see what I mean, read this 2016 article, a public discussion about the lines of thinking that have been hammered out between the masses and all levels of government (www.chinalawtranslate.com/7079-2/?lang=en). Imagine your government treating you like a thinking adult. How refreshing!
Did American citizens have any input into the post-911 false flag Patriot Act? None. Even their supposed legislative representatives received the 900-page dictate in the middle of the night and were told to sign it the next day (sunlightfoundation.com/2009/03/02/congress-had-no-time-to-read-the-usa-patriot-act/). This was done for a reason. Obviously already written up by the CIA/NSA/DIA complex and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) before the planned 911 false flag, it stripped Americans of any rights they had as citizens. Did Americans have any say in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA: www.naturalnews.com/034537_NDAA_Bill_of_Rights_Obama.html) and the updated 2014 version, both which officially turned the United States into a military police state? Of course not. The same thing has happened and is happening in the rest of Eurangloland, with fascist laws being passed without so much as a whimper. This is the West’s phony, Potemkin “democracy” writ large. You think I want to move back to Eurangloland? Get outta here!
Yet, in China’s vibrant, open and inclusive communist-socialist democracy, all of its 1.4 billion citizens have been called upon to help shape this extremely important and consequential SCS law and how it will affect them and Baba Beijing’s ability to govern the country. This is why I can easily say that China has the most effective and participatory democracy in world, and Baba Beijing offers the best leadership of any country on the map. You can appreciate why I enjoy living in China so much, as I experience countless other examples of this on a daily basis. Read The China Trilogy (see up top) for all the juicy details and boots-on-the-ground-with-the-locals experiences.
Thus, in China there are no surprises about the SCS. Everybody is reading from the same page. Every person and business in China knows exactly what they need to do and not do to be reputable or disreputable. Everybody has the same chances to be a good citizen. They all know the benefits and consequences. No secrets, no black holes. It’s all spelled out. Every person and every company can see their information and for sure if you are disreputable, especially companies, your score will be available for all to see too. Who can see whose score is still being debated across the country, but it’s an open system. In fact, phone apps are even being developed to do just that, in real time (www.wired.com/story/age-of-social-credit/).
Just as importantly, contrition and redemption are highly reputable. Did you get caught cheating on a college exam, get drunk and vandalize a public park or wreck your car? Did a company dump pollution into a river or underreport income to pay less taxes? Did a bad apple CEO screw over the employees, only to tarnish the company’s reputation? Well, now is the time to compensate and pay back to society by doing good works, volunteering, contributing to charities, building or doing something for the community, going green, etc. Payback or paichang in Chinese is a huge facet of Chinese culture and I wrote a great chapter about it in Book #3 of The China Trilogy, China Is Communist Dammit! Dawn of the Red Dynasty (see up top).
Compare this to the West. All of this surveillance technology is being used to its maximum capacity, just like in China. Do Euranglolanders know how it’s being used? No. Who is using it? No. Why it is being used? No. Where it’s being used? No. Have people living in West been given the chance for public input? No. We know the West is secretly vacuuming data on potentially every person in the world. Have they had any input? No.
Americans should know that the CIA, NSA, DIA and fourteen other spy agencies (www.businessinsider.com/17-agencies-of-the-us-intelligence-community-2013-5?IR=T) are probing into every nook and cranny of their private and public lives, while data sweeping every detail about them, but it is opaque, secretive and downright fascist frightening. Do Joe and Jane Sixpack know what’s in their files? No. Who has them? No idea.
As I wrote in Book #3 of The China Trilogy, (see up top), the Chinese have known and accept that Baba Beijing has been keeping tabs on them, going back 5,000 years. The Heavenly Mandate stipulates that the leadership must guarantee social harmony and economic stability, and knowing what and who is going on in the Sino-hood, is critical to make it happen. Same need, different millennia and technology.
Nor is this a new problem in the US. The FBI, starting in 1908 and the CIA in 1947 began collecting vast storerooms of information on any citizen they saw fit to probe, with the occasional, meaningless “Congressional hearing” be damned. This fascism trickles down to state bureaus of investigation, county sheriffs and city police. Now all of these decades of information are being harvested en masse at the federal level.
I know several people, going back to the 1970s-1980s, who requested their “files” from the FBI and CIA, through the less and less viable Freedom of Information Act (FOIA: www.propublica.org/article/delayed-denied-dismissed-failures-on-the-foia-front). It took months and months to get anything. When they finally opened the packages received, they saw that big, fat black markers were used to censor much, and in some cases, most of the information. Even though they couldn’t read a lot of it, they were surprised to see how thick their files were. For that matter, was it all there?
Whether Westerners want to admit it or not, their elite owners and governments have been giving them clandestine social credit scores for decades, with often brutal, life changing consequences and no legal recourse. Since the whole process of surveillance and information collection in Eurangloland is a complete black hole, the people living there have absolutely no idea what their unspoken, unreported, unknown scores really are. And Westerners have secret scores, unwillingly.
If a person living in China feels there is a mistaken event in their SCS file, the law provides all the measures needed to refute and fix it. If there is reasonable doubt and an accuser is involved, measures are being adopted so you can confront this person or company. If the accusing person/company was wrong, they are going to take a big drop in their social score. Meanwhile in the West, if you are barred from leaving the country, lose your job, get railroaded and arrested with bogus charges, or are flown off to a torture center and then murdered, a reason is almost never given. It’s all shrouded in a black haze of secret national security.
It reminds me of the great dystopian movie, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (www.allmovie.com/movie/brazil-v6977). In it, a housefly falls into to a state security bureau typewriter, gumming up a key and misspelling someone’s name. The hero involved, Sam Lowry (played by Jonathan Pryce) becomes a victim of the Panopticon state apparatus, by trying to help this victim’s family. Totally innocent, he is eventually tortured and goes insane. There are untold numbers of Sam Lowry’s in the West, but not China.
As I wrote in Book #2 of The China Trilogy, China Rising -Capitalist Roads Socialist Destinations (see up top), China got rid of its labor camps years ago and in Book #3, I analyze how its judicial system works better than America’s. People get brought in for questioning and in a few high-profile cases, their whereabouts may not be known by their families for a few days, during the investigation. These cases get the usual anti-China Western propaganda smear (time.com/4716175/taiwan-missing-activist-china/).
But, China does not have people disappearing in torture prisons around the world, rotting in Guantanamo Gulag (www.thenation.com/article/guantanamo-gulag/) nor committing assassinations across the globe. No justice system is perfect, but as a person of modest financial means, I’d much rather take my chances as a defendant in China than the West, especially the United States. It’s one of the reasons many companies around the world are contesting their litigation in Chinese courts, for patents, for instance, since they are considered to be more faithful to the rule of law and less corruptible than Western venues (www.chinalawblog.com/2016/11/china-litigation-for-foreign-companies-its-a-good-thing.html).
Which citizens have a better chance with their government using 21st century social management technology? The ones where all the laws and expectations are completely open to the public and subject to accountability and debate, or the ones whose elites shroud the whole bureaucracy behind an iron curtain of national security secrecy? It is light versus darkness and I don’t need to tell you which one is China and the other Eurangloland.
Instead of getting brainwashed by anti-China, anti-communism-socialism propaganda behind the Great Western Firewall, take a few minutes and read the follow articles, translated from the Chinese, to get this country’s point of view of its own SCS law and customs (www.chinalawtranslate.com/giving-credit/?lang=en and www.chinalawtranslate.com/giving-credit-2-carrots-and-sticks/?lang=en). These Chinese articles calmly address the hysteria being whipped up in Eurangloland, as well as the frank concerns among the nation’s citizens. Remember, by exaggerating and distorting a non-issue in China, the West’s owners are doing a brilliant job of keeping you focused on and fearful of a foreign canard, instead of realizing that true fascism is right outside your window.
Let’s close out today’s column and podcast with the final scene of the movie Brazil. It’s a Western totalitarian, Orwellian, Big Brother, New World Order nightmare; a disturbing, troubling dystopia; a fascist police state; an abusive, insidious Panopticon – developing right before your very own eyes.
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ABOUT JEFF BROWN
JEFF J. BROWN, Senior Editor & China Correspondent, Dispatch from Beijing
As well, he published a textbook, Doctor WriteRead’s Treasure Trove to Great English (2015). He is also currently penning an historical fiction, Red Letters – The Diaries of Xi Jinping, to be published in late 2018. Jeff is a Senior Editor & China Correspondent for The Greanville Post, where he keeps a column, Dispatch from Beijing. He also writes a column for The Saker, called the Moscow-Beijing Express. Jeff interviews and podcasts on his own program, China Rising Radio Sinoland, which is also available on SoundCloud, YouTube, Stitcher Radio and iTunes. In China, he has been a speaker at TEDx, the Bookworm and Capital M Literary Festivals, the Hutong, as well as being featured in an 18-part series of interviews on Radio Beijing AM774, with former BBC journalist, Bruce Connolly. He has guest lectured at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences and various international schools and universities. Jeff grew up in the heartland of the United States, Oklahoma, much of it on a family farm, and graduated from Oklahoma State University. He went to Brazil while in graduate school at Purdue University, to seek his fortune, which whetted his appetite for traveling the globe. This helped inspire him to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia in 1980 and he lived and worked in Africa, the Middle East, China and Europe for the next 21 years. All the while, he mastered Portuguese, Arabic, French and Mandarin, while traveling to over 85 countries. He then returned to America for nine years, whereupon he moved back to China in 2010. He lives in China with his wife. Jeff is a dual national French-American, being a member of the Communist Party of France (PCF) and the International Workers of the World (IWW).