China has been busily creating an elaborate, digital system of governance since Xi Jinping came to power. This year, the social credit system is set to cover all corners of China. Undeniably intrusive and dystopian, within the system a blacklisted person can have their face recognized and displayed on electronic billboards after crossing particular intersections. The exact list of undesired behaviors have remained secret, but the punishments are as real as the perks.
Digitizing governance to make up for its weak legal system, capacities of this social credit system intrinsically limit political power at the same time. Evaluated by artificial intelligence, in official discourse the social credit system is free from bias and one-sidedness; of course, not downloading a Party-loving mobile app can jeopardize your performance review. Control of information is exclusive, and fake news is understood as information not released by the government.
The system is already being exported outside China. Foreign businesses, those living in China or even tourists, are demanded to adopt Chinese values on politically sensitive issues. Dictating the management of its “internal affairs” and deterring what it considered as “foreign intervention,” China banned NBA broadcasting when players showed support for the anti-China extradition protests in Hong Kong is one recent example.