The People’s Republic of China, despite its overly populist name, is certainly no republic serving its own people. Following countless stories of search engine manipulation, the suppression of protest freedom and pervasive surveillance technology that rivals George Orwell’s classic “1984”, it should come as no surprise the government banned citizens from exercising their travel freedoms over 23 million times throughout last year, according to an uncovered federal report obtained by The Associated Press.
The ban was conducted through the “social credit system”, the Chinese government’s dystopian network for human-programing, which allows for wide-spread travel sanctions forcing citizens to remain within their national borders. The National Public Credit Information Centre (NPCIC) tried to justify these restrictions by labelling purchasers as “discredited” troublemakers guilty of unspecified behavioural crimes, which reportedly includes “unpaid fines, tax debts, drug use, spreading false information” and more.
“Once discredited, limited everywhere,” the authors write, implying status on the government’s public blacklist is simply a life-sentence that bureaucrats can impose against any citizen, at any time, for any reason, without the accountability of a due process system. The practice was also declared legitimate by China’s supreme court, enabling a described tyranny which “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”
By enforcing a low social credit score on someone’s record, where no form of appeal applies, Chinese citizens are effectively restricted to an imprisoned life within their own nation — tied to a perpetual economic downturn as they’re unable to make investments, buy real estate and operate businesses both within their own country or outside nations allowing such freedoms. The use of the social credit system appears to expand this common-place process by the millions, only now critics finally have first-hand confirmation and statistics directly from the communist regime.
This isn’t to say “social credit” penalties and rewards isn’t without its positives. As noted by AP journalist Joe McDonald, the Chinese markets are a hotbed for economic fraud and socialised crime — which can be demonstrated through rising counterfeit goods, property theft (intellectual and otherwise), false advertising, violating certain safety standards and other noteworthy crimes and misdemeanours.
Human rights activists, however, are beyond fair to describe the process as a legitimised kangaroo court where the state can casually enforce the worst of punishments upon their untrustworthy dissent without any accountability. As their media slogan goes: “Once you lose trust, you will face restrictions everywhere.” It’s either bend the knee to the state or die a traitor without any freedom left in the world.
The report describes how the government officially added 14 million instances of “untrustworthy conduct” to the list of offences, meaning any powerbroker can essentially choose from an endless array of reasons, taking a lucky guess from the top of their head, resulting in the complete destruction of someone’s socio-economic life without any proof required. It was noted by Bloomberg that varying districts throughout China selectively enforce which offences are a strike against someone’s social credit, likely forcing the hand of President Xi Jinping to keep his promise of forming a national system by 2020 for the sake of consistency.
This suppression isn’t impossible given the country’s recent history of harm against minorities. Our publication reported on the stunning U.N. report which revealed that over 1 million members of Uighur and Kazakh population — the Muslim minorities based in China’s western provinces — were being illegally detained in “massive internment camps that [are] shrouded in secrecy.” The investigation explained how prisoners were subjected to programs requiring the “forced study of communist propaganda”, describing the president as a hero while singing chants of “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China”, where failure to comply resulted in waterboarding and other illegal torture methods under international law.
“We are really talking here about a humanitarian emergency,” said Adrian Zenz, a specialist and university lecturer on Chinese-Muslim human rights, speaking with The New York Times last year. “This is a very targeted political re-education effort that is seeking to change the core identity and belief system of an entire people. On that scale, it’s pretty unprecedented.”
He also noted that over 11 million of that population poll have been forced to give blood samples for the government’s genetic DNA database. This was confirmed by another investigation from Human Rights Watch. In his conversation with The Intercept, Amnesty International’s East Asia Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin, explained how the government’s cited goal of combatting extremism, while admirable, has resulted in an international “turning point” for authoritarianism.
“There is no way that China can ensure it has sufficient loyalty from the Uighur people and its citizens,” Bequelin began. “[This will] create a generation with very deep grievances because they are detained outside of any kind of legal framework and they are treated as colonial subjects. [Every colonial project] generates its own anti-colonial project. [The government] is currently engaged in a mass brainwashing operation that requires the detention of hundreds of thousands of people, arbitrarily, outside of any legal framework, in order to subject them to intense political indoctrination, in the hope that this will make them into a more compliant and loyal political entity.”
Now it appears no-one is safe — and none can leave if already caught.
Thanks for reading! This article was originally published for TrigTent.com, a bipartisan media platform for political and social commentary, truly diverse viewpoints and facts that don’t kowtow to political correctness.
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