Chinese car manufacturer SAIC launched an SUV on the local market that comes equipped with an app created by Alibaba for users to ‘study the thinking of Xi’ the current leader of the Chinese Communist Party, which is directly linked to China’s ‘social credit system’ where users add or lose points based on how well or poorly they know their leader’s doctrines.
The ‘novelty’ is not really anything new. In February 2019, Alibaba, the Chinese online shopping giant that even lists its shares on Wall Street, had already created the app called ‘Xuexi Qiangguo’—’study to make the country strong’—with which people learn ‘Xi’s thought,’ his vision of ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics and try to create a cult of worship towards the current CCP leader.
With the new partnership between SAIC and Alibaba, people only need to give a voice command for the app to start playing phrases of the communist leader. In addition, the user can take a kind of quiz, and if the answers are good, it raises the ‘social credit’ and on the other hand, if the user does not demonstrate knowledge of ‘Xi’s thought,’ this can affect the social score.
Companies also use the propaganda application as part of their employee evaluation process, and that low scores on the questionnaire become an obstacle to promotion.
China’s ‘social credit system’ is an abusive method used by the government to monitor the behavior of its citizens and rate or score them, which in turn allows or denies them access to basic things like buying a plane or train ticket. Some people are even arrested for ‘bad behavior’ that ranges from even the slightest criticism of the regime or simply spreading the news that the government deems dangerous.
A Chinese woman, Wang Longmen, based in France, spoke to the media to explain the scope of Alibaba’s app: “This app, Xuexi Qiangguo, was discovered a while back to be collecting citizens’ data. This means that if you install the app in your car, the authorities will be able to track your whereabouts.”
While local media celebrated the app’s popularity with 43 million downloads, insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity indicated that party members were forced to download the app, and residential leaders went to great lengths to promote it in their communities.
The partnership between Alibaba, SAIC, and the Chinese government exposes the level of cooperation that exists between ‘private’ firms or companies and the Chinese government that are willing to make million-dollar investments in an app or a car for non-commercial purposes and at the potential financial loss to satisfy the authorities.
It is no exaggeration to say that to succeed in China; you need the ‘blessing’ of the Chinese Communist Party.
Other uses of CCP’s ‘social credit system’
Reports from the Minghui.org website, whose primary mission is to provide first-hand information about the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners, the largest group of persecuted believers in China today, indicate that the social credit system is also being used to identify believers who are targets of religious persecution in China.
Using facial and voice recognition technologies, among others, the CCP will give each person a score based on their activity, including their Internet browsing history, social media posts, shopping history, medical and educational history, personal beliefs, criminal record, and even who they associate with.
Scores are reduced for those who have been sentenced to prison (prisoners of conscience) or have received administrative sanctions, those who are part of what the CCP has termed “perverse sects,” those whose political views differ from those of the CCP, and even those whose family members or friends have criticized the CCP.
People with low scores will not be able to travel by plane, high-speed train, work as government employees, get a loan, etc. Their low scores will affect their own lives, work, travel, and children’s education and job prospects.
Some Falun Dafa practitioners reported having been arrested at the train station trying to buy a ticket after the social credit system was triggered with their ‘social profile’.