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China uses nationwide 'scoring' system to keep millions of people with 'low scores' from traveling
A woman waits on a train at Harbin Railway station in Harbin of China on Feb. 13. Under new guidelines, millions of Chinese citizens will be banned from air and train travel, because of low 'scores.' These new rules will go into effect on May 1. (Tao Zhang/Getty Images)

China uses nationwide 'scoring' system to keep millions of people with 'low scores' from traveling

The Chinese government has started using its “personal score” system to bar citizens with low scores from traveling. China says that it is trying to “purify” society by rewarding the trustworthy and punishing those it deems as untrustworthy.

According to CBS News, almost 11 million Chinese citizens are no longer permitted to fly, and 4  million are not permitted to travel by train. These new rules will go into effect on May 1, but restrictions like this may have been in place behind the scenes for years.

Reuters cites China’s Supreme People’s Court as saying in 2017 that “6.15 million Chinese citizens had been banned from taking flights for social misdeeds."

What is this ranking system?

In 2014, China announced the rollout of its “social credit system.” The system was based on the principle that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful,” and “once untrustworthy, always restricted.” The system rates people on their behavior, everything from breaking laws and failing to pay fines to what someone posts on the internet.

The program will be fully implemented for every Chinese citizen by 2020, but for now it is being tested by a percentage of the population numbering in the millions. According to the CIA World Factbook, in July 2017, China had a population of nearly 1.4 billion.

As if the scoring system was not Orwellian enough on its own, China plans to use its network of 176 million cameras to monitor its citizens and determine if anyone needs to have their score lowered. The communist nation says it plans to have more than 600 million cameras up and running by 2o2o. China is even using these cameras to shame jaywalkers, who can expect to find their image broadcast on nearby screens if they are caught in the act.

The social credit system affects more than just travel

A low score can keep Chinese citizens from buying real estate, getting management jobs in big banks, enrolling their children in certain schools, staying in some hotels, and even having access to high speed internet.

CBS News talked to a Chinese journalist named Liu Hu. He was ordered to apologize in court for tweets he authored, and then told that his apology was insincere. Now, because of that incident lowering his score, he is banned from flying, but the list goes on.

“I can't buy property. My child can't go to a private school," Liu told CBS. "You feel you're being controlled by the list all the time.”

But a good score can help you in all those areas – and even influence your matches on dating websites. And in a country where a decadeslong one-child policy has resulted in men outnumbering women by more than 34 million, a boost in the online dating world can make a real difference.

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