The social credit system in China has blocked people from taking more than 11 million flights and 4 million train trips.

 

The social credit system is used to punish citizens for bad behavior, with numerous blacklists preventing them from traveling, getting loans or jobs, or staying in hotels, and even by limiting internet access.

 

China intends to roll out a more comprehensive, national social credit system in 2020, which has gained comparisons to one seen in the dystopian drama show "Black Mirror."

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The numbers, from the end of April, were included in a report by China's state-run news outlet Global Times, but it is unclear what offenses those targeted in the travel ban have committed.

 

The social credit system is actually a collection of blacklists, of which there are more than a dozen at the national level. Each list is based on similar offences - such as misbehavior on planes and trains, or failing to abide by a court judgment - and determines the punishments people face, from throttling internet speeds to blocking loans. So keep your noses clean, netizens. Your jaywalking, Mobike mischief or McDonald’s brawl could soon earn you a spot on the blacklist and a boot off the gaotie.

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The blacklist which the report is referring to most likely involves debtors and was created by the Supreme People's Court in an attempt to make people comply with verdicts and repay their debts.

 

The court publishes the names and ID numbers of debtors on its website. They are banned from plane and high-speed train travel, and can't stay at four and five-star hotels, send their children to expensive schools, book cheap hire cars, or make luxury purchases online.

 

Some provinces play a recorded message when someone tries to call a blacklisted debtor, informing the caller that the person they want to speak with has outstanding debts. And in May, a short cartoon with the photographs of debtors' faces began playing at movie theatres, on buses, and on public noticeboards with a voiceover that said: "Come, come, look at these debtors. It's a person who borrows money and doesn't pay it back."

 

Since the debtor list was first created, state-media reports repeatedly described it as the first step toward creating a China-wide social credit score, expected in 2020.

 

For now, separate pilot credit systems are being trialed by eight companies. One of these, Sesame Credit, is run by the Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial and deducts credit points off people who default on court fines.

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Sesame Credit is one of the few systems that gives users an actual score, but it remains to be seen whether China's national system will give every citizen a score. For instance, a Sesame Credit of lower than 520 points, will mean you can't use public bicycle. So pay high attention to your Sesame Credit.

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